SpaceX has secured a three-year lease to make use of New Mexico's Spaceport America. The commercial spaceflight startup plans to use the port's land and facilities to conduct more advanced tests of its Grasshopper reusable rocket, which is intended to land intact on a launch pad upon its return from space.
SpaceX will pay New Mexico $25,000 for each launch
Spaceport America executive director Christine Anderson told the AP that the move to New Mexico will allow SpaceX to test the Grasshopper rocket at higher altitudes. Elon Musk's company will pay New Mexico $25,000 for each launch on top of a $6,600 monthly fee to lease a mobile mission control facility.
"Spaceport America offers us the physical and regulatory landscape needed to complete the next phase of Grasshopper testing," says SpaceX president and COO Gwynne Shotwell in a press release. "We are pleased to expand our reusable rocket development infrastructure to New Mexico." Although there are indications that SpaceX's ultimate goal is to build its own spaceport in Texas, the Spaceport America deal means that the company will share facilities with the likes of Virgin Galactic for the near future.