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SpaceX signs lease to launch at NM spaceport

SpaceX

SpaceX's Grasshopper vertical takeoff and landing test vehicle (VTVL) takes a 131-foot (40 meter) test flight at the company's rocket testing facility in McGregor, Texas, in December 2012..

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- Another space industry heavyweight will use New Mexico's Spaceport America.

Gov. Susana Martinez announced Tuesday that Elon Musks' Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX, has agreed to a three-year lease to do testing of its "Grasshopper" reusable rocket in southern New Mexico.

SpaceX is one of the leading developers of rockets and spacecraft and is one of the companies the Spaceport project has been trying to recruit.

Spaceport America Executive Director Christine Anderson says the Grasshopper project is moving from McGregor, Texas, to New Mexico because the rocket needs to be tested at higher altitudes. She says the reusable rocket could revolutionize the commercial space industry by greatly reducing costs.

Richard Branson's space tourism company, Virgin Galactic, is the anchor tenant at Spaceport, which has struggled to attract other businesses.