Elon Musk’s SpaceX continues to construct its spaceport at Boca Chica near Brownsville, Texas. The latest schedule suggests that rocket launches of the Falcon 9 and perhaps the Falcon Heavy will commence from the Texas launch facility toward the end of 2018. In the meantime, rumors abound of greater plans that Musk has for the commercial spaceport.

Elon Musk’s dreams of colonizing Mars

Elon Musk has not been shy about his dream of colonizing Mars. In 2016, he detailed that version at a space conference in Mexico. He envisioned massive rockets called the Interplanetary Transport Vehicle that would take a hundred people at a time to a colony on the Red Planet.

Since then, Musk has refined his Mars plans and has suggested that the ITVs will be downsized to a certain extent. He intends to open his mind further on the subject in late September.

Will the road to Mars start in Texas?

According to the Rio Grande Guardian, Eduardo A. Campirano, port director and CEO of the Port of Brownsville was at a Rio South Texas Economic Council meeting when a question was put to him about the Boca Chica spaceport. Campirano hinted, though nothing is official, that Musk will announce that he will launch his interplanetary transports from Texas rather than from one of the two launch pads he operates in Florida.

The idea of starting a Mars colony effort from Texas makes sense for a variety of reasons.

SpaceX will have control of the launch range, not having to share it with anyone. Boca Chica is just down the road, by a few hundred miles, from the astronaut training facilities at NASA’s Johnson Spaceflight Center just south of Houston. SpaceX will be able to create the infrastructure required to mount a Mars colony effort in Texas without too many complications.

One suspects that the Texas state government will be more than happy to facilitate such an effort.

The question that surrounds a private Mars program is the tiresome subject of money. Musk has been successful in lowering launch costs by making his Falcon 9 partly reusable. However, that effort has been in service for a money-making enterprise, launching satellites for various customers and cargo as well as, very soon, people to and from the International Space Station.

However, the business case of a private Mars colony is not exactly clear.

Possibly, Musk expects that NASA will be obliged to outsource its Mars effort, whatever it becomes in the wake of President Trump’s pivot back to the moon. Considering how more commercial friendly the space agency has become, the assumption may well prove to be valid.