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Musk's SpaceX Wins Round in Texas Land Dispute

SpaceX wins a round in a case involving property being used to support a rocket launch facility in Texas, a media report says.

SpaceX, the rocket company owned by Tesla  (TSLA) - Get Tesla Inc Report Founder Elon Musk, won a round in a legal dispute over a Texas property.

Oil regulators voted unanimously in Musk's favor in a dispute over land being used to build the Starbase complex near the border with Mexico.

The Railroad Commission of Texas on Tuesday voted 3-0 to designate SpaceX's Lone Star Mineral Development unit as the operator of inactive oil and natural gas wells on 24 acres. That land is being developed to support the entrepreneur's rocket-launch facility near the mouth of the Rio Grande, Bloomberg reported.

The commission is the state's top oil and natural gas industry regulator.

Dallas Petroleum Group had claimed ownership of the land and a pair of inactive wells there following an October 2017 deal with Sanchez Energy. Sanchez sold the land to SpaceX subsidiary Dogleg Park last year.

Dallas Petroleum had filed a lawsuit in district court in Cameron County and a complaint with the commission. The company alleged that Sanchez Midstream Partners of Houston broke the terms of a 2017 purchase agreement, valued at $6.25 million, for various oil and gas leases that included two wells on a 24-acre tract adjacent to the SpaceX facility.

Railroad Commission staff determined that Sanchez continued paying property taxes for the land while Dallas Petroleum Group did not attempt to do so until just before a January 2021 hearing for the dispute.

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Dallas Petroleum did not immediately respond to a request for comment. President Matt Williams told Bloomberg that Dallas Petroleum plans to appeal the decision. 

SpaceX plans to drill natural gas wells near the rocket launch site and use the methane it extracts in connection with the rocket facility operations. 

SpaceX also plans to build two natural gas-fired power plants and refrigeration equipment to make liquid methane, according to Federal Aviation Administration documents. 

On Tuesday, SpaceX tweeted photos of Starship's giant first-stage booster, known as Super Heavy.

"Installing Starship booster engines for first orbital flight," it said in a post that included a photo of the rocket, with Musk holding his young son.

In March, the SpaceX prototype of its Starship SN11, which is being designed for an eventual trip to Mars, crashed during a landing attempt.

Amazon  (AMZN) - Get Amazon.com, Inc. Report Founder Jeff Bezos suffered a setback to his goal of traveling to the moon. The U.S. Government Accountability Office denied a protest by his space company, Blue Origin, and Dynetics Inc. of NASA's award to SpaceX of a $2.9 billion contract for a human lunar landing system.

Blue Origin completed a test flight on July 20 with a crew including Bezos.