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SpaceX forms subdivision dubbed 'Mars Crossing'

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Posted: Tuesday, February 18, 2014 11:55 pm

SpaceX may have already landed on Mars.

Amid anticipation that Cameron County could be selected as the location for the world’s first private vertical launch site, SpaceX has developed a subdivision called “Mars Crossing.”

It also continued to expand its property holdings into this new year, a Valley Morning Star investigation shows.

This year, through Dogleg Park LLC, Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies purchased 28 new lots surrounding the proposed complex at Boca Chica Beach, bringing the total number of lots it now owns to 88. The total land area purchased encompasses roughly 36 acres of land. In addition, SpaceX has leased 56.5 acres.

Furthermore, SpaceX’s Director of Advanced Projects Steve Davis replatted 13 lots totaling 8.344 acres into one lot under the name “Mars Crossing Subdivision.” Cameron County Commissioners Court gave its approval of the preliminary and final plat of the subdivision at the end of the past year, the Star also found. This is the area where the control and command center would be situated.

Dogleg — defined by NASA as a directional turn made in the launch trajectory to produce a more favorable orbit inclination — is listed as the owner of “Mars Crossing.”

SpaceX “consolidated these lots to make it easier to conform to development plans and to meet county subdivision regulations,” county Administrator Pete Sepulveda Jr. said.

“I think it looks very good for Cameron County,” Sepulveda said of the anticipation of an announcement, adding that everyone is waiting for the final Environmental Impact Statement from the Federal Aviation Administration for a clear signal.

SpaceX did not respond to requests for comment — but the name of the new subdivision in Cameron County comes as no surprise.

Under the heading “Road to the Red Planet,” the firm points out in its website that, “SpaceX was founded under the belief that a future where humanity is out exploring the stars is fundamentally more exciting than one where we are not. Today SpaceX is actively developing the technologies to make this possible, with the ultimate goal of enabling human life on Mars.”

Musk’s proposal calls for a commercial orbital complex at the Boca Chica site for the launch of Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy orbital rockets and other smaller reusable suborbital vehicles. All Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy launches would carry commercial payloads, including satellites or experimental payloads, for delivery to the International Space Station. Besides standard payloads, the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy could also carry a capsule, such as the SpaceX Dragon capsule.

As SpaceX notes, Dragon is a free-flying spacecraft designed to deliver both cargo and people to orbiting destinations. Dragon made history in 2012 when it became the first commercial spacecraft in history to deliver cargo to the International Space Station and safely return cargo to Earth, a feat previously achieved only by governments.

“It is the only spacecraft currently flying that is capable of returning significant amounts of cargo to Earth. Currently Dragon carries cargo to space, but it was designed from the beginning to carry humans. Under an agreement with NASA, SpaceX is now developing the refinements that will enable Dragon to fly crew. Dragon’s first manned test flight is expected to take place in 2-3 years,” the space exploration firm added.

SpaceX’s Davis was one of numerous collaborators with NASA that found that SpaceX’s Dragon capsule and Falcon Heavy rocket present the possibility of delivering large scientific payloads to Mars, through a modified capsule called “Red Dragon” in advance of carrying humans.

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