Proceeding almost beyond the notice of the media, the Construction of SpaceX’s launch facility at Boca Chica, Texas, near Brownsville, continues apace. The spaceport was delayed for two years after it was discovered that the ground was too soft and unstable to handle rocket launches. SpaceX had to truck in tons of dirt to strengthen the ground, which had to be allowed to settle in. The latest news involves the power system that will provide electricity to the spaceport and the most recent news when rocket tests, followed by launches will take place.

Tesla Powerpack battery system delivered.

Electrek reports that a 632-kilowatt solar array on the launch facility site has almost been completed. A Tesla Powerpack battery backup system has also been delivered and is in the process of being installed. SpaceX has apparently always planned for its spaceport to operate off-grid. The solar array/battery system will collect solar energy during the day and use the backup battery during inclement weather and at night to provide electricity to the facility. Tesla has already built a larger version of the system to provide clean energy to South Australia, collecting power from a wind farm and using the world’s most massive lithium-ion battery to provide backup electricity.

Tesla is also building solar and battery systems in hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico.

Rocket tests to begin in late 2018 with launches to follow in 2019.

Teslarati reports that SpaceX intends to begin “vehicle tests” at the Boca Chica facility late 2018 or early 2019 with launches to follow. The company is not revealing which “vehicle tests” are going to take place.

However, media reports abound that SpaceX envisions its Texas spaceport to be the launch facility for its planned interplanetary rocket, the BFR, decorously called the Big Falcon Rocket. The heavy lift, reusable BFR is envisioned as being central to SpaceX CEO’s Elon Musk’s vision for Mars colonization. The colossal rocket could also be used to support President Trump’s plan to return astronauts to the moon.

Also, a communications array that will help track the crewed version of the Dragon, due to start testing later this year, that will take astronauts to and from the International Space Station, is almost complete. The array is part of an academic facility called Stargate which SpaceX is building in partnership with the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.

Finally, a massive trolley crane was spotted on the launch facility site and was eventually housed inside a shed. No one knows for sure what the crane is for, but speculation persists that it will be involved in the possible tests of the BFR.