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IPFS News Link • Texas

SpaceX wants to expand Starship launch site with a Texas land swap

• https://www.space.com, By Elizabeth Howell

SpaceX wants to do a land swap in Texas to "expand its operational footprint around its launch facilities" for its giant new Starship rocket, according to the state.

SpaceX plans to give 477 acres (193 hectares) to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department near the Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge a little north of Boca Chica in coastal South Texas, according to state documentation. The town of Boca Chica is near where the company conducts Starship launches and testing. In exchange, the department would grant SpaceX 43 acres (17.4 hectares) from Boca Chica State Park, closer to the Starship area.

A public meeting is planned on Thursday (Jan. 25) to discuss the matter. You can submit your comments online through local business hours in Texas on Wednesday (Jan. 24).

The land discussion once again brings into focus SpaceX's ongoing activities in the environmentally sensitive area around its South Texas facilities, while the company works on lucrative contracts tied to Starship. SpaceX's Starship system has been tasked by NASA to take astronauts to the surface of the moon on the Artemis 3 mission in 2026, in the first of what may be a series of lunar landing opportunities for SpaceX. 

But to get approval for lunar excursions, SpaceX needs to certify Starship with numerous launches; earlier this month, NASA pushed back its Artemis landing schedule by at least a year to accommodate numerous issues. A crewed round-the-moon mission known as Artemis 2 has faced technical issues, while SpaceX's Starship and spacesuits built by Axiom Space will likely not be ready in time for the previous 2025 Artemis 3 landing timeline, NASA officials have said.

Starship, the most powerful rocket in the world, has not yet reached space. But two previous launch attempts — and years of testing besides — have generated reports of controversy among local residents. 

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