When Gov. Jerry Brown, D-California vowed that his state would “launch its own damn satellites” if Donald Trump closes down NASA climate change research, a lot of eye rolling resulted. Brown has been called “Governor Moonbeam” for that kind of grandiosity, However, if any state in the union is going to start its own #Space program, it is more likely to be #Texas than California. The difference is the business-oriented way that the Lone Star State approaches large projects.
For example, California is trying to build a high-speed train service between Los Angeles and San Francisco, estimated to be north of $100 billion, financed by state appropriations. The project has been stalled for years because of costs and environmental delays. In the meantime, a group of private investors is proceeding on a high-speed rail line between Houston and Dallas, supported by state tax breaks and regulatory relief. The one thing standing in the line’s way is the necessity to acquire land through eminent domain, but that is regarded as a temporary impediment.
California likes to boast about how it is a leader in renewable energy. But the leading state of the Union in wind power is not the Golden State, but Texas. Private companies have erected wind farms, with the state providing transmission lines between them and power hunger urban areas. Currently, private companies are moving to increase solar energy in Texas without many of the generous tax breaks that California provides.
So how does Texas become the first state space power in the union? Part of the process is already taking place with the construction of the first private space power near Brownsville, courtesy of SpaceX, helped by tax incentives and regulatory relief. Besides SpaceX, a number of other commercial space companies, including Blue Origin, have found a home in Texas, Midland and Ellington Field south of Houston are establishing space ports for horizontal takeoff and landing launch vehicles.
If Texas were to launch were to be the launch site of Earth observation satellites, all it would have to do is to employ the same package of tax and regulatory breaks that it has used to attract so many other industries from places like California. Planetary Resources is already getting into the Earth observation business by using the sensor technology it is developing for prospecting minerals on asteroids and turning them toward the home planet, It hopes to sell the data to farmers and other private entities that would stand to benefit from such services, One could see Texas offering to buy climate data from Planetary Resources so much time as they agree to launch from Texas. Beyond #Climate Change, Texas could benefit from such information as it is prone to hurricanes, the last major one being Ike in 2008.
The difference between California and Texas is that the former approaches things from a government-centric perspective and the latter from a business oriented approach. That difference is why Texas has been running rings around California for the past number of years and will likely be the first to have a “state space program.”