STARGATEA host of dignitaries celebrated the completion of STARGATE, a $2.1 million addition to the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley that will enable students to learn about spacecraft design, launching and orbital operations involved with space missions. The March ribbon-cutting ceremony took place at the new building adjacent to the SpaceX Commercial Launch Facility near Boca Chica Beach.

“If you go around the United States, you’ll find very few universities that have a facility like this, very few universities that have a physics department like our physics department, an astrophysics department like we do,” UTRGV President Guy Bailey told the group of community and political leaders attending the event.

STARGATE is an acronym for Spacecraft Tracking and Astronomical Research into Gigahertz Astrophysical Transient Emission. The 15,000-square-foot facility ‘s fundings are in part by a U.S. Economic Development Administration grant. It will set the scene for involvement in research and collaboration on a variety of projects. Some of these will also involve SpaceX launches and missions.

“We were just the right group of people … to approach SpaceX and say, ‘Hey, we’ve got something that we can work together and move forward on,” said Fredrick A. Jenet, associate professor of electromagnetic theory, quantum mechanics and thermodynamics. Jenet was instrumental in developing the concept of the complex and launching the initiative to get it done.

George Cox is a veteran journalist with more than 30 years experience as a newspaper writer and editor. A Corpus Christi native, he started his career as a reporter for The Brownsville Herald after graduating from Sam Houston State University with a degree in journalism. He later worked on newspapers in Laredo and Corpus Christi as well as northern California. George returned to the Valley in 1996 as editor of The Brownsville Herald and in 2001 moved to Harlingen as editor of the Valley Morning Star. He also held the position of editor and general manager for the Coastal Current, a weekly entertainment magazine with Valleywide distribution. George retired from full-time journalism in 2015 to work as a freelance writer and legal document editor. He continues to live in Harlingen where he and his wife Katherine co-founded Rio Grande Valley Therapy Pets, a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising public awareness of the benefits of therapy pets and assisting people and their pets to become registered therapy pet teams.