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SpaceX Earns Federal Approval For Texas Spaceport

Jul 12, 2014 12:54 PM EDT
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Genius billionaire Elon Musk's space-faring company SpaceX just earned federal approval to build its first personal spaceport in South Texas, paving the way for the future of private space flight.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) granted SpaceX approval to begin taking steps towards contracting a highly advanced spaceport in Texas. This will be the kind of spaceport currently only seen in science fiction, where automated machines will take care of most technical work such as fueling and sending off rockets. Musk has previously said that he one day hopes to have a space port as busy as some commercial airports, sending cargo and passengers up to space stations and other destinations on a regular basis.

This dream, while closer to reality, is still a very long-term goal. Currently, SpaceX stages its launches from NASA military sites in Florida and California, where it has launched more than three successful Falcon 9 flights.

These successful flights have also earned the company federal approval to compete to win business from the Air Force's Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle Program.

"Under Air Force standards, SpaceX is already qualified to compete for EELV missions, but SpaceX must also be certified by the Air Force before any contract can be awarded to the company. Meeting the criteria for successful flights is a key milestone in the certification process," the company said in a recent statement.

SpaceX is also working towards perfecting the world's first reusable rocket. The rocket, called the Falcon 9 Reusable (FR9) could one day become the staple mode of lift-off from the SpaceX private spaceport. Last May, the F9R reached heights of 1,000 meters before slowly defending back to earth unscathed.

While the FAA approval of Musk's spaceport plan is the last federal hurdle the company needed to clear, SpaceX still needs to earn approval from various state officials and community leaders to even start the construction of roads leading to the space-port's intended site.

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