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Students to Benefit from SpaceX Launch Site at Boca Chica Beach

BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS – AUGUST 4, 2014 – Louis Dartez, an alumnus of The University of Texas at Brownsville, faced a room crowded with television cameras, reporters and civic officials at a press conference held today at the offices of the Brownsville Economic Development Council.

UTB Physics graduate student Louis P. Dartez speaks at a press conference on SpaceX' decision to build their launch pad facility in Brownsville on Monday, Aug. 4, 2014 at the Brownsville Economic Development Council in Brownsville, Texas. Representing physics students, Dartez had been asked to comment on the day’s big announcement that Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX, has selected Boca Chica Beach as the launch site for its Falcon 9 rocket.

“You all have changed my life,” said Dartez, citing the many individuals and entities that have worked on obtaining this project for more than three years. “The decision by SpaceX to select our area benefits the students of today and tomorrow.”

Dartez, a 2009 graduate of the UTB Mathematics and Science Academy, earned his M.S. in physics at UTB in May of this year. Set to begin working on his Ph.D. in physics in three weeks with the onset of the fall semester, Dartez said physics students will have opportunities “like never before.”

“My thanks to Dr. Rick Jenet and Dr. Richard Price,” he said. “Without you and the other faculty we wouldn’t be here.”

SpaceX ended months of speculation that the rocket company would chose Cameron County and build the world’s first vertical rocket launch site at Boca Chica Beach to complement its existing launch sites at Vandenberg, California, and Cape Canaveral, Florida. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk made the official announcement through a news release from Gov. Rick Perry’s office.

“This is a historical moment for the greater Brownsville region and the state of Texas,” said Brownsville Mayor Tony Martinez. “This would never have succeeded but for the immense support of the people of Brownsville, all of its surrounding neighbors and the state. We will ensure that SpaceX has everything they need in order to be successful in the Greater Brownsville Borderplex.”

UTRGV President Dr. Guy Bailey speaks at a press conference on SpaceX' decision to build their launch pad facility in Brownsville on Monday, Aug. 4, 2014 at the Brownsville Economic Development Council in Brownsville, Texas. The mayor read a statement from Dr. Juliet V. García, UT Brownsville President, who was unable to attend the media event: “This is clear evidence of what can happen when a community and its leadership focus on achieving a goal together. The university is proud to have played a pivotal role in helping recruit SpaceX to our region.”

Teamwork and perseverance were the themes cited by all the speakers at the media event – along with excitement and relief.

Dr. Guy Bailey, President of The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley that will open its doors in August 2015, said this accomplishment made him think of the Johnson Space Center that was established years ago and the many achievements that came from the work of its talented teams.

“Congratulations to all of you,” Bailey said. “This is a tremendous effort, and years from now you will step back, and you will think, ‘Wow we did this, and we really achieved something remarkable.’ The people who are going to benefit are the students – the students in high schools, the students at UT Brownsville who will be UTRGV students; Space X will be the real beneficiary of students like Louis. This is going to be a great partnership. I can’t tell you how happy I am to be a part of it.”

Keith Uhles, Board Chair of the Brownsville Economic Development Council, said he remembered being in the same room, three and a half years ago, when this project was first addressed.

“It all sounded like a dream,” Uhles said. “This type of project could never have happened without teamwork – from the city of Brownsville, the Governor and his staff, and the BEDC staff, working tirelessly all hours of the day and night. This is just the beginning for Brownsville.”

Judge Carlos Cascos echoed Uhles’ gratitude to Governor Rick Perry.

“It is amazing what we can do when we all pull together,” Cascos said. “I thank Gov. Rick Perry for all his support – this is an important initiative for the entire state – Texas will benefit greatly from the SpaceX project.”


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