Port Commissioner: SpaceX negotiating Port lease to refurbish rocket boosters

Port Canaveral staff are currently in negotiations with aerospace company SpaceX to lease land on the north side of the inlet where a possible facility to refurbish rockets would be built, according to one Port Authority Commissioner.

Bruce Deardoff, who represents district four, says SpaceX has expressed interest in leasing several acres at the Port where a facility could be built to receive, house, and refurbish Falcon 9 boosters after they land at sea on the aerospace company's autonomous drone ship.

"I think we are going to find a great solution to what they need," said Deardoff. 

Currently, SpaceX retrieves the landed boosters and then stores them in an Air Force warehouse. If a deal is struck, SpaceX could create a steady loop of boosters launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and then refurbish several miles away at the Port. A possible deal could also bring more aerospace jobs to the area to support the refurbishment activities. But one point of contention in the early negotiations between the two parties is the Port's initial assessment of a federally required dock fee.

Capt. John Murray, Port Canaveral's CEO, says his staff settled on a fee of $15,000 for each rocket booster docked at the Port. The amount, he says, was based on research into comparable fees for aerospace parts and equipment. But after commissioners pulled the item from discussion at a Wednesday commission meeting, Murray said he was willing to reconsider a lower amount during a private meeting with SpaceX representatives that was scheduled to follow the public meeting.

"We are really excited to have them in the Port," said Captain Murray about the fast growing space company SpaceX, "and we are excited about the business they are bringing to the community. This is just an ongoing discussion that will continue."

SpaceX spokesperson John Taylor would not confirm the content of the meeting with Port Canaveral staff, but did say representatives of the company participated in a private meeting with Port Canaveral Staff.

According to Commissioner Deardoff, SpaceX's goal in three years is to launch an average of 90 rockets a year.