SpaceX, the private space corporation, has won approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to build a new spaceport in Texas.
The commercial space agency will be constructing the first privately-owned base in the world for vertical launches of spacecraft.
The FAA gave its "approval to support the issuance of launch licenses and/or experimental permits that would allow Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) to launch the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy orbital vertical launch vehicles and a variety of reusable suborbital launch vehicles from a launch site on privately owned property in Cameron County, Texas," the FAA reported.
Space Florida and other groups had lobbied the FAA to approve a site in the Sunshine State before the permit was award to Texas. SpaceX officials say the proposed site in Florida, as well as one in Puerto Rico, did not meet minimum requirements for their launch facility.
Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX, was founded by PayPal pioneer Elon Musk. In April 2014, the entrepreneur told reporters that if the location near Brownsville, Texas cleared an environmental assessment, the new base would go in that locale.
Currently, the site consists of 25.4 acres of wetlands and over 31 acres of sand dunes. The location is currently mainly used for recreational purposes.
The Boca Chica Beach site in the Lone Star State is still awaiting final approval from management of SpaceX. Once that OK is given, the private space agency will take around two years to build the launch facility.
The new launch site will stretch over 56.5 acres of land, and the facility will be capable of carrying out up to 12 launches each year. Some of these will be for private individuals and business, while other could be undertaken for the national space agency.
SpaceX is one of two private space developers currently under contract with NASA to ferry supplies to the International Space Station (ISS). Those flights will continue to liftoff from NASA's Cape Canaveral.
However, this approval from the FAA paves the way for further development by SpaceX, including launching human missions into orbit.
"All Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy launches would be expected to have commercial payloads, including satellites or experimental payloads. In addition to standard payloads, the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy may also carry a capsule, such as the SpaceX Dragon capsule," FAA officials wrote in the environmental impact statement.
The Falcon 9 rocket booster presently in use and the Falcon Heavy each use liquid fuels to propel payloads into space.