The construction of the SpaceX launch facility at Boca Chica, near Brownsville, Texas, is not yet complete. However, according to a piece in Teslarati, the company’s CEO Elon Musk, has plans for South Texas that go beyond just launching rockets to the moon and Mars. He is contemplating manufacturing the heavy lift launch vehicle BFR, decorously known as the Big Falcon Rocket, near the spaceport, greatly simplifying transportation issues. The idea has profound implications for the economies of south Texas and of California, where the Falcon 9 is currently being produced.

How the Falcon 9 is transported to Florida

Currently, the Falcon 9 is manufactured at a SpaceX facility near its headquarters in Hawthorne, California. The rocket is then transported by truck across the country to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida as an oversized load in a daylight-only route that takes a week and a half. It is then stacked and made ready for launch.

BFR’s size could be a problem

The problem with transporting the BFR across the country is that while each stage is about the height of a Falcon 9 core, its diameter, at nine feet, dwarfs that of its younger sibling, which measures at 12 feet. It, therefore, behooves SpaceX to locate the manufacturing facility of the BFR as close as possible to the launch site.

The transformation of South Texas’ economy

The idea of a rocket manufacturing facility co-located with the SpaceX spaceport is no doubt causing local officials a great deal of glee, even though they will be called on expend more public funds to support its construction. The influx of jobs and economic growth over and beyond those being generated by the spaceport would be a boon for the community.

The development will also cause some headaches as transportation infrastructure, and extra housing will have to be built to accommodate the population explosion.

Farewell California

Since SpaceX intends to eventually phase out the Falcon 9 and even the new Falcon Heavy in favor of the BFR in the fullness of time, the manufacturing facility in Hawthorne will no longer be needed.

The jobs that hitherto had been located in California will move to Texas.

To be sure, SpaceX’s plans seem to hinge on transportation issues. However, it cannot have escaped the company’s notice that it will also be out from under the immense tax and regulatory burden that California imposes for the right to do business in that state. Texas is much more business-friendly, a selling point for building the spaceport there, to begin with.

SpaceX is not contemplating moving its headquarters out of California at this time. However, such a move, from Hawthorne to perhaps Houston, would be the next logical step. The cost of living and favorable business climate, plus the presence of NASA’s Johnson Spaceflight Center make a move to Texas very attractive going forward. Of course, a Hyperloop line between Houston and Brownsville would then be indicated.