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SpaceX could launch rocket from NM site this year

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The SpaceX Grasshopper is shown being tested in Texas.

The SpaceX Grasshopper is tested in Texas.

LAS CRUCES — Space Explorations Technologies Corp. says it could launch its first test flight from Spaceport America by late December.

The Las Cruces Sun-News reports that SpaceX President and CEO Gwynne Shotwell addressed a space symposium in Las Cruces Wednesday.

She said about 25 of SpaceX’s more than 3,000 employees will be based temporarily at the spaceport near Truth or Consequences for the test work on the company’s Grasshopper rocket.

The 10-story rocket had its final Texas test flight this month.

Shotwell said the New Mexico site is well laid out and that it allows forms of testing that can’t be done elsewhere.

The Spaceport Authority is building a large launch pad for SpaceX, to conduct test flights on a new, reusable rocket it is developing.

“We’re expanding the vertical launchpad area and adding capabilities,” Spaceport Executive Director Christine Anderson told the Journal this summer.

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