Author Topic: SpaceX Launch Viewing Complex - S. Padre Island, TX  (Read 7888 times)

Offline shuttle_buff

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Just returned from S. Padre Island and during a Dolphin Watch and Sunset Tour I spotted a new colorfull facility from the bay. When I asked the ship's captain (who runs multiple gulf and bay touring operations there) what that was he responded, "That's the new SpaceX Launch Viewing Complex"

I thought, "What? SpaceX built a launch viewing complex on S. Padre Island? I have to find out more while I'm here and get pictures."

Just for reference, the center of S. Padre Island is about 7 miles from the SpaceX Boca Chica launch complex. This new complex points West, right towards Boca Chica beach (see pictures) and is right outside the 5 mile radius required for safety. How exciting! I'll admit the entire island is super excited about SpaceX and the
business it's going to bring to the island year round. They compare it to the explosive growth of Coco Beach in Florida in the '60s when NASA started launching rockets from the cape.

Most of the locals call it the "SpaceX Launch Viewing Complex" but actually it's a new "Activities Pavilion" in Isla
Blanca Park on South Padre Island. The realtor showing us condos to buy on the island said SpaceX donated money to improve the park. The S. Padre is totally revamping the park, it's going to be beautiful and full during SpaceX launches for sure!

Offline ChrisC

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Re: SpaceX Launch Viewing Complex - S. Padre Island, TX
« Reply #1 on: 09/13/2018 03:36 AM »
It's been discussed many times in the Boca Chica threads (here's thread #7), although it'll take you a while to find the posts buried among everything else.

Thanks for all the pictures!  We hadn't seen those yet.
« Last Edit: 09/13/2018 03:36 AM by ChrisC »
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Offline guckyfan

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Re: SpaceX Launch Viewing Complex - S. Padre Island, TX
« Reply #2 on: 09/13/2018 07:56 AM »
I think the info that SpaceX made a donation for the park is new as well.

Offline Dave G

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Re: SpaceX Launch Viewing Complex - S. Padre Island, TX
« Reply #3 on: 09/13/2018 04:29 PM »
pics from other thread

Offline ChrisC

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Re: SpaceX Launch Viewing Complex - S. Padre Island, TX
« Reply #4 on: 09/13/2018 10:53 PM »
Direct links to a few earlier posts about this:

Jun 2017: local news coverage
https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=43026.msg1689517#msg1689517

Jun 2017: rendering on map:
https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=43026.msg1696224#msg1696224

Jul 2017: Isla Blanca Park drone footage
https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=43026.msg1705136#msg1705136

Aug 2017: renderings and discussion:
https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=43026.msg1712926#msg1712926

tons of images (renderings, photography, maps etc.) from this site, via Google search:
https://www.google.com/search?q=site:forum.nasaspaceflight.com+spi+amphitheater&tbm=isch
« Last Edit: 09/13/2018 10:54 PM by ChrisC »
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Offline shuttle_buff

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Re: SpaceX Launch Viewing Complex - S. Padre Island, TX
« Reply #5 on: 09/13/2018 11:14 PM »
Sorry, correction to my post.

"This new complex points West, right towards Boca Chica beach (see pictures)"

The new complex points *South*.

Thanks  ;)

Offline Nomadd

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Re: SpaceX Launch Viewing Complex - S. Padre Island, TX
« Reply #6 on: 09/14/2018 07:47 AM »
 It's not really a 5 mile safety radius. They just drew the line there because that's where the ship channel is and they didn't want people stranded on the beach south of it. The launches will only be 2 1/2 miles from the Mexican beach at the Rio Grande outlet.

Offline Dave G

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Re: SpaceX Launch Viewing Complex - S. Padre Island, TX
« Reply #7 on: 09/14/2018 09:45 AM »
It's not really a 5 mile safety radius. They just drew the line there because that's where the ship channel is and they didn't want people stranded on the beach south of it. The launches will only be 2 1/2 miles from the Mexican beach at the Rio Grande outlet.

And only 1.7 miles from your house!

Of course, that assumes the same pad location they unveiled in 2013.  Since then, SpaceX announced that Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy will not launch from Boca Chica.  Instead, the South Texas site will be used for BFR only. 

This will obviously change the original plans SpaceX showed for the launch site, possibly even location of the pad itself.

Offline TripleSeven

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Re: SpaceX Launch Viewing Complex - S. Padre Island, TX
« Reply #8 on: 09/14/2018 09:50 AM »
It's not really a 5 mile safety radius. They just drew the line there because that's where the ship channel is and they didn't want people stranded on the beach south of it. The launches will only be 2 1/2 miles from the Mexican beach at the Rio Grande outlet.

I see some land prices are starting to "tick up" there.

Offline Dave G

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« Last Edit: 09/16/2018 10:42 PM by Dave G »

Offline Dave G

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Re: SpaceX Launch Viewing Complex - S. Padre Island, TX
« Reply #10 on: 09/20/2018 09:32 AM »
More updates from facebook, this time in the form of pictures:

link to facebook page
« Last Edit: 09/24/2018 03:20 PM by Dave G »

Offline Nomadd

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Re: SpaceX Launch Viewing Complex - S. Padre Island, TX
« Reply #11 on: 09/20/2018 11:13 AM »
 Unless they block off the jetty, that's going to be the best public launch view. No sand dunes in the way

Offline Lars-J

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Re: SpaceX Launch Viewing Complex - S. Padre Island, TX
« Reply #12 on: 09/20/2018 04:35 PM »
Hopefully all that work isn't to waste and they get to use it as an awesome viewing area for BFS tests in 12-18 months.

Offline deruch

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Re: SpaceX Launch Viewing Complex - S. Padre Island, TX
« Reply #13 on: 09/20/2018 08:01 PM »
Hopefully all that work isn't to waste and they get to use it as an awesome viewing area for BFS tests in 12-18 months.

Yeah, I'm cringing a bit that it's publicly being referred to as the "SpaceX launch viewing complex".  Given the company's current pivot on launch site usage, Boca Chica may not get used for full launches for quite some time.  If ever.  And the schedules for hopping tests which are currently planned for the relatively near future aren't likely to be widely pre-announced  for the most part.  Plus it won't offer spectacular viewing for low altitude hops.  Which means that, even if they're cool, they might not be much of a viewing draw just because of planning/logistics issues.  After all of which, people who are already going to be bummed that the planned tourist increases may not have eventuated will start feeling like SpaceX tricked them into spending a bunch of money by selling Pie in the Sky.  The more closely that expansion is directly tied to SpaceX the worse the potential fall out.
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Offline rsdavis9

Re: SpaceX Launch Viewing Complex - S. Padre Island, TX
« Reply #14 on: 09/20/2018 08:44 PM »
Hopefully all that work isn't to waste and they get to use it as an awesome viewing area for BFS tests in 12-18 months.

Yeah, I'm cringing a bit that it's publicly being referred to as the "SpaceX launch viewing complex".  Given the company's current pivot on launch site usage, Boca Chica may not get used for full launches for quite some time.  If ever.  And the schedules for hopping tests which are currently planned for the relatively near future aren't likely to be widely pre-announced  for the most part.  Plus it won't offer spectacular viewing for low altitude hops.  Which means that, even if they're cool, they might not be much of a viewing draw just because of planning/logistics issues.  After all of which, people who are already going to be bummed that the planned tourist increases may not have eventuated will start feeling like SpaceX tricked them into spending a bunch of money by selling Pie in the Sky.  The more closely that expansion is directly tied to SpaceX the worse the potential fall out.

Maybe this will pressure them to loosen the launch restrictions.
What are they now?
Not on weekends
No more than 12
Nothing bigger than a FH

Pretty restrictive and I assume this came from the county.
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Offline Dave G

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Re: SpaceX Launch Viewing Complex - S. Padre Island, TX
« Reply #15 on: 09/20/2018 10:23 PM »
Maybe this will pressure them to loosen the launch restrictions.
What are they now?
Not on weekends
No more than 12
Nothing bigger than a FH

Pretty restrictive and I assume this came from the county.

The restrictions are:

1) 12 launches a year, and no launches on summer weekends or holidays.  This is driven by a Texas state law that doesn't allow public beaches to be closed for private use, unless there are specific exceptions:
link to article
Quote
May 24, 2013: Gov. Rick Perry on Friday signed into law a proposal to temporarily close a beach on the southern tip of Texas during rocket launches, a move that allows the state to remain competitive for a SpaceX launch site.

House Bill 2623 gives state officials permission to close the public Boca Chica Beach, near Brownsville, for up to 12 rocket launches a year. The proposal prohibits beach closures during the Memorial Day and Labor Day holiday weekends...

2) From the EIS: Launch vehicles may include:
  a) Falcon 9
  b) Falcon Heavy
  c) Unspecified sub-orbital test vehicles that are "smaller than Falcon 9".

That last bit: "smaller than Falcon 9" was the subject of some discussion previously.  Someone (I forget who) mentioned that BFS by itself is actually shorter than F9, so that may be covered under the current EIS (subject to interpretation).

I wonder, is the latest BFS design with the 3 fins still shorter than Falcon 9?
« Last Edit: 09/24/2018 03:19 PM by Dave G »

Offline oiorionsbelt

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Re: SpaceX Launch Viewing Complex - S. Padre Island, TX
« Reply #16 on: 09/21/2018 03:09 AM »

I wonder, is the latest BFS design with the 3 fins still shorter than Falcon 9?

Yes. 55 meters as opposed to 70 meters for F9

Offline Ludus

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Re: SpaceX Launch Viewing Complex - S. Padre Island, TX
« Reply #17 on: 09/23/2018 03:30 AM »
Would launching BFR from a platform say 5-10 miles offshore in this location get them the freedom to have many more launches without a need to close any beaches?

Offline Dave G

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Re: SpaceX Launch Viewing Complex - S. Padre Island, TX
« Reply #18 on: 09/23/2018 12:11 PM »
Dolphin Cove Completion On South Padre Island


Offline philw1776

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Re: SpaceX Launch Viewing Complex - S. Padre Island, TX
« Reply #19 on: 09/23/2018 01:09 PM »
Would launching BFR from a platform say 5-10 miles offshore in this location get them the freedom to have many more launches without a need to close any beaches?

It should, as that distance offshore is greater than the distance from populated areas to SpaceX's land where we thought the launch pads would be.  As has been illustrated here in this humungous thread several times, it's shallow offshore for miles.  Great opportunity for an offshore launch pad, logistics complications aside.

Cape Canaveral is also fairly shallow offshore although it's been stated many times that pad 39A was built to be NOVA class rated.
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