© 2022 Texas Public Radio
Real. Reliable. Texas Public Radio.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Elon Musk Announces Expansion To McGregor, Texas Facility On Twitter

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and SpaceX CEO and Chief Designer Elon Musk, view the historic Dragon capsule at the SpaceX facility in McGregor Texas
SpaceX's McGregor facility has played a pivotal role in the company's successes. Then-NASA Administrator Charles Bolden (L) came to the site in 2012 to thank engineers who worked on Dragon Capsule after its first mission carrying supplies to the International Space Station.

SpaceX will be expanding its footprint in Central Texas. Founder Elon Musk announced on Twitter Saturday that it would break ground on a second factory for its Raptor engines.

The commercial space operator has had a rocket testing facility in McGregor for nearly two decades. It began leasing the 120-acre site from the city in 2003. That grew to 650 acres and now sits just over 4,300 acres.

Last year the city expanded the lease agreement, and SpaceX has the option to purchase the property, according to the city’s 2020 comprehensive annual financial report.

The site has been used to test and launch a variety of the company’s rockets and engines, including the Falcon and prototype Grasshopper rockets, as well as the Merlin engine.

Musk said the location near Waco will ramp up to producing two to four Raptor engines a day. Musk said they would produce 800-1,000 engines a year.

“The reality is for a small town like McGregor having a company like SpaceX is huge,” said Andrew Smith executive director of the McGregor Economic Development Corporation.

In addition to the prestige the company name brings, the more than 500 employees boost local business activity and with the company’s entrenchment more home ownership could follow. Smith praised the company for its corporate presence in the largely rural community.

The chief aim, he said, was creating a fleet to operate a base on Mars by 2050.

Since coming to Texas in 2003, SpaceX has grown exponentially. It has gained several large government contracts including a $100 million Air Force contract for its Falcon I rocket, a 2020 contract to create missile tracking satellites for $149 million and two Department of Defense contracts this year for a combined $159 million to launch on the company’s Falcon 9 rockets.

While SpaceX adds to its facilities in McGregor, it continues to expand and build at its Boca Chica beach launch site.

The launch site, nicknamed Starbase, is set to test the company's enormous super heavy booster this month. It would be a first in Texas. The massive booster will sit below one of its Starship prototypes.

The continuing buildup of assets in the state around the company’s testing, launching and manufacturing initiatives have further tied the success of the company to Texas.

TPR was founded by and is supported by our community. If you value our commitment to the highest standards of responsible journalism and are able to do so, please consider making your gift of support today.

Paul Flahive can be reached at Paul@tpr.org and on Twitter at @paulflahive