You are here

Rocket Development Facility

Texas

Rocket Development Facility

SpaceX tests its engines and structures at a 4,000-acre state-of-the-art rocket development facility in McGregor, Texas. Every Merlin engine that powers the Falcon 9 rocket and every Draco thruster that controls the Dragon spacecraft is tested on one of 11 test stands. The Falcon 9 first stage is tested with all nine Merlin engines firing at 1.71 million pounds of thrust for up to three minutes—the same as actual flight duration. In addition, the facility is home to a dual Merlin test stand consisting of two independent engine testing bays, allowing SpaceX to test up to 400 Merlin engines a year. Established in 2003, the site now averages two tests per day.

Launch Facilities

SpaceX maintains launch sites at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS), Kennedy Space Center in Florida, Vandenberg Air Force Base (VAFB) in California, and Boca Chica, Texas. Each location offers key benefits to support our customers’ missions.

Florida

CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, SPACE LAUNCH COMPLEX 40

The site’s location on the southeast coast of the US provides access to a wide range of low and medium inclination orbits frequently used by communications and Earth-observing satellites and by supply missions to the International Space Station. The site also allows access to geostationary orbits, as well as departures to the Moon and interplanetary destinations. Situated on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, with Patrick Air Force Base to the south and NASA’s Kennedy Space Center to the north, SLC-40 benefits from many support services in the region, including security and launch range control, weather monitoring, ground support infrastructure, payload processing facilities, and long-range tracking cameras capable of observing launches from liftoff through stage separation and second-stage ignition out over the Atlantic.

California

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, SPACE LAUNCH COMPLEX 4 EAST

The site’s location on the California coastline provides customers with access to high inclination and polar orbits, frequently used by satellite communication constellations, defense intelligence and Earth-observing satellites, and some lunar missions. Launches from Vandenberg heading straight south traverse open ocean all the way to the Antarctic, by which time the vehicles have long since reached orbit. SpaceX’s operations at SLC-4E benefit from Vandenberg‘s security and launch range control, weather monitoring, ground support infrastructure, payload processing facilities, and long-range tracking cameras capable of observing launches from liftoff through stage separation and second-stage ignition over the Pacific.

Florida

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, SPACE LAUNCH COMPLEX 39A

SpaceX is modifying Kennedy Space Center’s historic Space Launch Complex 39A, home of the Apollo and Space Shuttle programs, for flights of the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rocket. In addition to commercial satellite launches and space station resupply missions, LC-39A will support crewed launches of the Dragon spacecraft for NASA. Once operational, LC-39A will have a hangar, a payload processing annex, and a transporter-erector, along with modifications to the existing crawlerway, the fixed and rotating service structures, and pad deck. As with LC-40, LC-39A benefits from many local support services including security and launch range control, weather monitoring, ground support infrastructure, payload processing facilities, and long-range tracking cameras.

Texas

SPACEX SOUTH TEXAS LAUNCH SITE

SpaceX is building the world’s first commercial launch site designed for orbital missions in the Boca Chica area of South Texas. The site’s southern, coastal location is uniquely optimized for orbital space launches from the continental United States – it is as close to the equator as possible, while remaining distanced from populated areas. SpaceX South Texas will be optimized for commercial launches, and will support launches of the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy to low-Earth orbit, geostationary orbit, and beyond.