The private space flight company 'SpaceX' says, pending approval of local agreements and permits, it will conduct its commercial launches from a 'space port' in Cameron County in deep south Texas.
"Texas has been on the forefront of our nation's space exploration efforts for decades, so it is fitting that SpaceX has chosen our state as they expand the frontiers of commercial space flights," Texas Gov. Rick Perry said in making the announcement.
The state will provide a $2.3 million investment and will fund $85 million in capital improvements to Boca Chica Beach, a Texas state park at the mouth of the Rio Grande, which will be the private company's main space port.
Carlos Cascos, the County Judge, or chief administrator, in Cameron County, says the deal will lead to major improvements for the Rio Grande Valley at the southern tip of Texas, which has been in the news recently for the flood of Central American immigrants entering Texas through the region.
"This is a good investment for the nation as a whole," Cascos said. "The job creation that this company is going to create is going to be significant for us, not including all the indirect jobs that will be associated with this."
Perry's office said SpaceX will bring 300 direct jobs to the region.
The Texas location has been in the works for some time. Federal Aviation Administration recently approved the area for space flights, SpaceX has been buying property in the region, and the Texas Legislature in 2013 approved the temporary closing of the park for rocket launches.
"SpaceX is excited to expand our work in Texas with the world's first commercial launch complex designed specifically for orbital missions," SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said in a statement. "In addition to creating hundreds of high tech jobs for the Texas workforce, this site will inspire students, expand the supplier base, and attract tourists to the south Texas area."
Texas' involvement with manned space exploration goes back decades. America's government sponsored manned space flight was coordinated out of NASA headquarters southeast of Houston. The first word spoken by astronauts on the surface of the moon was 'Houston.'
Musk and Perry said the agreement is contingent on the approval of the needed permits and local economic development incentives.
SpaceX has begun preparing rockets to launch to the International Space Station. The company says as many as 12 launches per year of commercial satellites could take place from the couth Texas site.
SpaceX already operates a Rocket Development Facility in McGregor, in Central Texas. It is the only private company ever to return a spacecraft from low Earth orbit, which it first accomplished in 2010.
Musk is also the CEO of Tesla Motors, and Texas is in the running for Tesla’s vaunted ‘giga factory’ electronic vehicle battery plant.