SpaceX planning massive expansion of rocket facilities on Florida’s space coast

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SpaceX is looking to build several new facilities at NASA’s historic Kennedy Space Center in Florida, including a state of the art launch control center and a massive processing facility for its rockets, according to environmental impact documents filed to NASA in April. Florida Today first reported the news Friday.

The documents reveal Elon Musk’s space company is proposing a 133,000 square foot rocket processing and storage facility, a control center up to 300 feet tall for launches and landings, a “rocket garden” to show off the company’s “historic space vehicles,” a new security office and a 280,000 square foot utilities yard. The proposed buildings and associated parking would all be on a piece of land nearly one mile long by a half mile wide.

“As SpaceX’s launch cadence and manifest for missions from Florida continues to grow, we are seeking to expand our capabilities and streamline operations to launch, land and re-fly our Falcon family of rockets,” SpaceX spokesman James Gleeson said in a statement.

The company is fresh off the debut of an enhanced version of its Falcon 9 rocket, called Block 5. SpaceX launched and landed its first Falcon 9 Block 5 on May 11, with Musk announcing plans for this new rocket to achieve a host of new milestones for SpaceX, including launching and landing the same rocket twice in 24 hours – as early as next year.

SpaceX is aiming for at least 24 launches this year, on pace to shatter its record 18 successful launches completed in 2017. The company has already completed 11 launches – including the debut of Falcon Heavy, the most powerful rocket in the world. President and COO Gwynne Shotwell told CNBC in May the company expects lower demand in 2019, with about the same number of launches expected as 2017.

While SpaceX has several facilities across the U.S., its little wonder that the company would find it attractive to expand in Florida. The space coast represents the majority of SpaceX launches throughout its history but the current company’s largest rocket processing facility at Kennedy is about a third the size of the processing facility proposed in the report.

“Commercial space is real; it’s here and it’s getting bigger,” Dale Ketcham, vice president of government relations at economic development agency Space Florida, told CNBC. “The private sector is asserting itself in the space domain.”

SpaceX now dominates the global market of orbital rocket launches, which the U.S. had seceded to Russia and Europe until last year. Launching nearly every other week – while developing a gigantic reusable Mars rocket and a constellation of 4,425 broadband satellites– SpaceX has become one of the most valuable private companies in the world, worth nearly $28 billion.

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