Sunday, September 18, 2011
Puerto Rico is being eyed as a potential new launch site location for the next generation of spacecraft. California-based SpaceX tells MSNBC, that it is considering Puerto Rico for a space base as it expands its operations. SpaceX’s main launch facility is at Cape Canaveral in Florida and the company is in the process of developing a second launch facility at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The third facility could be in Puerto Rico, but Puerto Rico has some competition because Hawaii, Texas and Florida are also in the running. This third facility for SpaceX will be a commercial launch site. Cape Canaveral and Vandenberg are Air Force bases.
With the space shuttle fleet retired, NASA is depending on private companies like SpaceX to handle space station supply runs and transportation for the astronauts. SpaceX has reached an agreement with NASA to launch its next Dragon space capsule atop its Falcon 9 rocket. SpaceX will launch cargo-carrying rockets to resupply the International Space Station. For now, NASA is SpaceX's prime customer. SpaceX anticipates flying four resupply missions to the space station during 2012.
Puerto Rico would be a great location. It would be a great addition to the Arecibo Observatory, a radio telescope, the largest single-aperture telescope ever constructed. The Arecibo Observatory is used for research in the areas of radio astronomy, aeronomy, and radar astronomy.