The Government Kicked Me Out So They Could Launch Rockets


I lied, you will be hearing from me this week, but only once.
I couldn’t stop thinking about my piece on dock slip ownership, so I started brainstorming other relatively obscure things people own. Naturally, rocket launching centers came to mind, or more specifically the land rockets are launched from.
Today isn’t going to bring anything actionable, but more of “huh, interesting”.
Everyone knows about the Cold War that followed World War II, and how that sparked the Space Race between the U.S. and Soviet Union, but not many people care to look at the steps that were needed to get there.
The many steps of man that led to that whole giant leap thing for mankind. So let’s talk about the land that is now Cape Canaveral.

History Of Cape Canaveral

The land that the Kennedy Space Center is on, has long been under government control. It started as a military base, and actually came into the light when the US was dealing with the Cuban Missile Crisis.
When Russia started building these missile bases in Cuba, the Department of Defense started increasing our military presence down in Florida, including the Cape Canaveral area.
In 1962, when President Kennedy announced the Lunar Missions, Cape Canaveral really came into the spotlight as one of the leading land prospects for the launch site.
For good reason too, it was perfect. Cape Canaveral was on the coast meaning we could launch rockets over the Atlantic, and if any of them blew up, nobody would get hurt.
And it was just about as close to the equator you can get in the U.S., which ideal for launching rockets. The earth spins fastest around the equator and rockets can use that to their advantage. Less fuel and all that good stuff, making the environmentalist happy (jk).
The only problem was that the government didn’t own enough of it. The new lunar launch sites required dozens of more acres of land… and people lived there.
So, the government offered each homeowner 3x fair market value for their home or condemnation. Basically “sell your home to us, or we kick you out of your beachfront house.”
Nothing like seeing your tax dollars put to work.
For the most part it worked, but there were a few cases of them having to condemn homes. To be honest, I don’t really blame the owners for being upset, Cape Canaveral looks like it would’ve been an awesome vacation spot.
Anyways, a couple bulldozers here, a man-made island there and voila, the U.S. wins the Space Race and has two premier launch sites.

Starbase Followed Suit

But that’s the government, which is never as fun.
When the privatization of space began, SpaceX started buying up land in Boca Chica, Texas, under the name Dogleg LLC (an homage to the dogleg trajectory rockets would follow) for Starbase.
Boca Chica is the southmost tip of Texas bumping up against Mexico and was chosen for many of the same reasons Cape Canaveral was. Right next to the Gulf of Mexico and as south as you can get.

Maybe not so much to the environmentalists delight this time though; it’s that it’s pretty much surrounded by wildlife sanctuaries.
Surprisingly, or maybe unsurprisingly, the offer to homeowners from SpaceX was the same: 3x fair market value, with the bonus of VIP tickets to any future launch events there.
The one main difference was that SpaceX couldn’t force these owners to sell their home like the government could. So instead, they said “the 3x offer was said to be ‘non-negotiable’”, and homeowners were only given two weeks for this particular offer to remain valid before “legal action” was taken.
Nobody tested their luck.
It’s paid off so far. SpaceX been awarded two contracts with NASA and will likely use Starbase a lot. Either for their own launches or leasing it out to other companies.

Fast Forward To The Future

It’s truly like playing the lottery. Some people got their houses bulldozed, while people just outside this area saw their home prices spike since they now had a front row seat to history. Now homes just outside Cape Canaveral’s or Starbase’s radius are worth a fortune and rented out for thousands of dollars whenever there’s a launch.
So, who knows, go as far south as you possibly can, buy up some land, and maybe it’ll be bought up for one of the future Mars missions.
I looked and couldn’t find anything further south than these two that wasn’t near Miami or the Keys, so we may just be out of luck.
Let’s have ourselves a weekend!

from, matt

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