Featured Image Source: @KimiTalvitie via Twitter
SpaceX was granted the final approval on Tuesday to build its Starship production facility in the Port of Los Angeles (L.A). The Los Angeles City Council granted SpaceX a permit to build the facility by a unanimous 12-0 vote. Last week, the L.A. Board of Harbor Commissioners approved the permit, now with the final vote SpaceX is now free to begin working at the site. The rocket company's representatives told L.A. City Councilman Joe Buscaino’s office that they selected the location because it needed additional manufacturing capacity for its Starship spaceship-rocket duo that will one day take astronauts to Mars. SpaceX will build the new facility on about 12.4 acres at the former Southwest Marine site at Terminal Island with an option to increase to 19 acres. SpaceX has said it will refurbish some of the buildings there and may also add a temporary tent-like structure. The lease will begin at $1.7 million per year and that price will increase over time based on the consumer price index over a full 20-year lease period. Though, if the company improves the property they could qualify for rent credits that could reduce yearly lease costs. Leasing land near the ocean is ideal for SpaceX because the craft will be too massive to be transported through highways and roads -the manufactured Starship parts made in Los Angeles can be transported by ship to SpaceX launch sites located in Texas or Florida. The first flight prototypes of Starship are currently under construction in Texas.
Also, the new location in the port would enable experienced SpaceX engineers and hands-on manufacturers, to work on Starship production within driving distance of SpaceX's California headquarters where over more than 6,000 employees work. So, they would be able to manufacture Starship parts in the Port of Los Angeles then transport them on a ship to Boca Chica Beach, Texas, instead of flying many employees to work in Texas.
The vote has passed in the LA City Council. SpaceX can now build Starship in the Port of LA.— Supercluster (@SuperclusterHQ) February 25, 2020
According to local government officials who saw an outline of SpaceX's plans, the future manufacturing facility in the Port of L.A. will include multiple buildings for production, including a blacksmith shop and machinery to speed up production. L.A. officials stated that SpaceX's plan for the land will help refurbish "dilapidated facilities with a history of vacancy and vandalism." Also that SpaceX "has the potential to create 130 aerospace jobs." Councilman Joe Buscaino, whose district includes the port, said:
"It's crazy that here we are in 2020 preparing ourselves to send people to Mars, and it's going to happen in our backyard. We are becoming a spaceport."
However, it seems like the Port of L.A. facility will just be a manufacturing plant because SpaceX officials stated on their permit request that the site will be used for research, design, and manufacturing. Starship will most likely liftoff from launch sites in Florida or Texas for now.