McGREGOR - The City of McGregor has amended its lease with SpaceX to allow the company to test “future technologies” at McGregor’s industrial park — including possibly the Falcon Heavy, which reportedly will become the world’s most powerful private rocket — city and SpaceX officials confirmed.
“The basic change is that more thrust will be allowed than under the original lease,” McGregor City Manager Kevin Evans said.
SpaceX and McGregor also reached an agreement on how late crews can perform rocket tests, some of which can be heard for miles.
With 3.8 million pounds of thrust at liftoff, the Falcon Heavy will have the ability to carry satellites or interplanetary spacecraft weighing more than 53 metric tons to low Earth orbit.
That is nearly twice the payload of NASA’s space shuttle, whose use has drawn to a close.
SpaceX communications director Christina Ra would not say when testing of the Falcon Heavy would begin, calling it a “proprietary matter.”
But the California-based company already has landed its first customer — Intelsat, a Washington, D.C.-based provider of satellite services worldwide — for the new rocket.
Ra said SpaceX wanted more options at its McGregor-based Rocket Motor Testing Zone “because it is our main rocket facility with an ever-growing footprint. There are a lot of projects, future technologies, that we will be working on there.”
Evans said SpaceX employs more than 200 people at its complex in McGregor.
SpaceX in recent weeks has been testing the Falcon 9-R — a next-generation version of the company’s Falcon 9 rocket, with the “R” standing for reusable — in a series of louder-than-normal firings that began in May. The company also has been testing individual engines for the Dragon orbiter and Falcon rockets.