Rocket firm expects to be ready to launch in 2018

BROWNSVILLE — At some point in the future, rockets will tower over the SpaceX launch site at Boca Chica Beach.

Until that happens, the only thing towering out there will be a pile of dirt — a very large pile of dirt, one that’s grown substantially since trucks started bringing in the stuff on a daily basis late last year.

The purpose is to raise and stabilize the area before actual construction of the launch pad and associated buildings be-gins. The technical term is “soil surcharging.”

When the final load is delivered, 310,000 cubic yards of soil will have been brought in, enough to cover a football field 13 stories high, according to the Hawthorne, California-based aerospace company.

Launch pads require very stable soil, since rockets are very heavy and hangar foundations must not crack. Surcharging is a much more cost-effective solution than, say, driving steel beams or pouring 200-foot concrete pillars, though it does take longer.

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