- Associated Press - Thursday, September 11, 2014

BURNET, Texas (AP) — A company filled with rocket scientists has bought in to Texas’ push to promote itself as a business-friendly, anti-regulation locale.

The Austin American-Statesman reports (http://bit.ly/1uJoRGd ) that Firefly Space Systems of Hawthorne, California, on Wednesday confirmed its relocation to the Austin area. The company says it’s negotiating with Cedar Park officials to make that city its headquarters. It said it already purchased 200 acres of farmland in Burnet County near the unincorporated community of Briggs.

The announcement comes just weeks after SpaceX announced it would create the world’s first commercial site for orbital rocket launches in South Texas.

Firefly will test small rocket engines at the Briggs location. PJ King, the company’s chief operating officer, expects to hire up to 200 workers, mostly engineers.

“These are all high-paying jobs,” he said.

King said Firefly was attracted to Texas partly because of its business and regulatory climate. It will also develop its rocket engines in collaboration with the University of Texas.

Firefly is attempting to build a satellite launching system that would cost customers $8 million to $9 million. It said that’s less than half the cost Russia charges.

King says the company will not test the rockets in Burnet County. He says the company is looking for a launch site, preferably on the coast.

Burnet County Commissioner Russell Graeter said he welcomes Firefly to the rural county of a little more than 42,000 people.

“There’s not much out there,” he said. “I hope it will get things going on for them in Briggs.”

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Information from: Austin American-Statesman, http://www.statesman.com

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