Budget cuts led to the end of the space shuttle programme in 2011 and a seemingly diminished role for Nasa, Texas and even the US in space travel. Nasa started having to pay Russia to ferry astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS).
At the same time, however, Nasa worked with the private sector to support commercial space travel.
Ever a business-savvy state, Texas is doing all it can to entice the private spaceflight industry, starting by securing its own space port.
"We are not trying to reinvent anything, but want to grow into the future of spaceflight," says Bob Mitchell, president of the Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership that works with Nasa to identify potential partners. "Houston is the home of human space exploration."
Texas has set the gold standard for attracting commercial spaceflight companies, according to industry insiders. They argue that if Texas keeps doing the right thing with economic incentives and legislation it could take the lead in a rapidly expanding market.
Commercial spaceflight offers rich rewards for companies and the states within which they locate. SpaceX, for example, a pioneer in the private spaceflight industry, has more than 40 contracted launches on its schedule, including some with Nasa to resupply the ISS, which are worth $4bn (£2.6bn).