By DINA ARÉVALO
Port Isabel-South Padre Press
SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 rocket Monday, live-streaming the event online as the company set a communications satellite into geosynchronous orbit. Falcon 9 rockets are one of the vessels the space tech company hopes to launch from in the future from facilities currently under construction at Boca Chica Beach.
South Padre Island has been vying to capitalize on the launches by creating a space tourism industry similar to those that sprung up at Cape Canaveral and Houston thanks to decades of NASA shuttle launches. Through construction of possible launch watch platforms, museums, and other space-related infrastructure, the Island hopes to become a space mecca.
To that end, City leaders have been lobbying hard to gain more flexibility in how they can use monies from the Hotel Occupancy Tax (HOT). Councilwoman Julee LaMure explained that, as of now, that money ‘s use is defined narrowly: a portion can be used for beach maintenance, another portion can be used for events that fill up hotel beds. “HOT is the largest source of revenue that SPI has. We’re tourism dependent and that HOT is vital,” LaMure said.
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