September 24, 2012
Florida Asks NASA For Land To Build Commercial Spaceport
redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online
The state of Florida has reportedly contacted NASA to ask the US space agency to turn over 150 acres of land in Cape Canaveral to the state's aerospace development group for the construction of a commercial spaceport.
According to Irene Klotz of Reuters, Florida Lieutenant Governor and Space Florida Chairwoman Jennifer Carroll wrote a letter to NASA head Charles Bolden and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood requesting the transfer of land north of the shuttle launch pads and runway.
Carroll said that state officials believed that the requested land was "excess to the needs of the US government," and Klotz reported that the letter was written "with an eye toward developing a commercial spaceport." Commercial spacecraft are permitted to depart from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Base, but the Reuters reporter noted that those launches are "subject to military oversight."
The letter comes one week after Space Florida committed more than $2.3 million for land surveys, title searches, environmental impact studies, and similar activities related to the proposed construction of the Cape Canaveral Spaceport. That facility, Klotz said, would be owned by the state and operated commercially, complete with airport-style commerce and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) oversight.
"Florida's request comes as NASA is working to revamp the Kennedy Space Center following the end of the shuttle program last year. It also is timed to woo privately owned Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX, to build its third launch site in Florida," Klotz explained. "The company, founded and run by Internet entrepreneur Elon Musk, currently flies its Falcon rockets from a refurbished and leased pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station."
In related news, the Associated Press (AP) reported Sunday that Musk's space tourism firm had recently and quietly purchased "at least three lots" in Cameron County, Texas. The land was purchased under the name "Dogleg Park LLC," the AP said, leading to increased speculation that SpaceX had decided to construct their launch facility in Texas rather than in Florida or Puerto Rico.
"The location would be about three miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border and about five miles south of South Padre Island," the wire service reported, adding that property records uncovered by the Brownsville Herald revealed that Musk's company purchased a one half-acre lot in June for $2,500 and two additional lots this month for a combined $21,400.