The Brownsville City Commission Monday night passed a resolution encouraging the construction of a commercial launch site near Boca Chica Beach as SpaceX continues to consider South Texas as a possible location for its space exploration operations.
The resolution notes the potential economic impact the construction of the world’s first commercial launch site could have on Brownsville and Cameron County should SpaceX or Space Exploration Technologies decide to construct a launchpad near Boca Chica Beach.
A presentation ahead of the vote highlighted the project’s job-creating possibilities.
If constructed, the new launch site is reported to directly or indirectly create about 1,000 jobs, all paying in excess of $55,000. The 12 monthly launches per year are also expected to attract up to 15,000 visitors each.
The resolution passed unanimously, although District 2 City Commissioner Jessica Tetreau did not attend the meeting.
Mayor Tony Martinez said he feels discussions concerning the launch site are moving in a positive direction, lauding the opportunity to offer the next generation high-paying, meaningful jobs in Cameron County.
“The thing that excites me the most is the fact that it is high-tech rocket science which I think would enable a lot of our very talented students to be able to pursue engineering and science careers that maybe haven’t been as available to our population,” he said.
He said having those types of jobs in Brownsville will reduce “brain drain,” the name given to situations in municipalities where the best and brightest of the population leave for larger cities due to a lack of opportunities at home.
“I think one of the things you’ve got to provide for this generation is (the ability) to do something that’s meaningful — do something that has impact on life,” he said. “I think (the SpaceX project is) one of those things.
“We don’t want a brain drain. We want the people who are talented to stay here.”
Commissioners were asked to encourage the public to attend a May 7 public hearing about the project, which will be held from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the International Technology, Education and Commerce Center on Mexico Boulevard.
SpaceX representatives will be on hand to answer questions and further discuss the project.
Martinez said he thinks public reception at the hearing, being held by the Federal Aviation Administration, could have an impact on the company’s decision on locating to the Brownsville/Cameron County area.
“They want to make sure they come into a community that wants them,” he said.
The FAA released a report April 15 that showed it found few environmental concerns with Boca Chica Beach being used as a launch site.
Martinez cited that report, calling the location an “ideal place” for the launch site and noting that NASA had considered the Boca Chica area in the 1950s when it was building its first launch site, which was eventually located in Cape Canaveral, Fla.