Even the artist’s rendering of the finished spaceport is no more than a collection of tanks, towers, warehouses, and a hangar.The visuals are deceptively simple, considering what will happen there and how much will be spent.For much of its history, South Texas has attracted a particular type of manufacturing, enticed by pro-business laws, toothless environmental restrictions, and, most important of all, an all but unending cut-rate labor pool.Finding a position making an hour was considered middle-class and lucky among my father’s people. Haggar’s está hiring,” I heard one of my dad’s friends say with enthusiasm to a couple of his sons when I was in Brownsville last year.When high-flying tech entrepreneur Elon Musk announced that he was building a launch site in my old backyard of Boca Chica, two thoughts ran through my mind: Is Brownsville ready for Space X? hen I was growing up on the unincorporated farming fringes of Brownsville in the seventies and eighties, Boca Chica Beach was one of the few places my family and I went for fun.Back then the beach and the surrounding state park were free, seemingly lawless, and, well, fairly Mexican, because they were unmonitored and open.
Who would have thought that in the end my dad was right?
Because it was Florida that I would have been looking at, and very nearly Cape Canaveral, the home of the space shuttle launches.
On his more creative days, on the drive to or from the beach, my father would look out over the dunes toward the north and say, cryptically, “You know there’s a treasure out there.” This would certainly pique my interest, given that I was an Indiana Jones freak. “They say Santa Anna buried treasure out there when he was escaping back to Mexico, and he shot six soldiers, whose ghosts guard it now, and you can dig it up only at midnight or it will just bring you bad luck.”My dad, a few beers in and limited in his folklore, may have had his wars (Texas Revolution and Civil) mixed up, but the story captured my imagination.
The site lies at the end of Texas Highway 4, seventeen miles east of the Brownsville city limits and less than half a mile from the shore, on a scrubby patch of sand and rugged, ineradicable plant life.
When it’s finished, in 2017, the installation will cover 56 acres, 22 or so of them developed for the platform and support warehouses and towers.