SpaceX is looking for a new domain to continue its testing of the Grasshopper reusable rocket, and it looks like they’ve settled on New Mexico’s Spaceport America, a facility that Virgin Galactic also uses for various space-related purposes. SpaceX has signed a three-year deal with Spaceport America to allow the private space company to test its Grasshopper rocket on location.
The move to New Mexico will allow SpaceX to test out its Grasshopper reusable rocket at higher altitudes. The last launch of the Grasshopper resulted in the rocket reaching a record altitude of 820 feet before slowly making its way back down and landing right where it launched in a perfectly upright position.
Spaceport America is owned by the state of New Mexico, so Elon Musk and company will pay the state $25,000 for each launch of the Grasshopper, as well as a $6,600 monthly “lease” fee to use a mobile mission control facility. However, this isn’t nearly as much as the $1 million-a-year fee that Virgin Galactic pays to use the facilities.
It’s not said what SpaceX’s plans are after the three-year deal is up, but we wouldn’t be surprised if the company built their own spaceport eventually. There’s been talks about it in the past, but nothing solid has been said about it yet. We can only assume that Musk has high hopes for the company in the future.