Featured Image Source: SpaceX
In 2018, SpaceX had submitted plans to build their next-generation rocket spaceship duo, known as Starship at the Port of Los Angeles (L.A.) in California. Last year, the company postponed the plan, and started to build the first Starship prototypes at their South Texas facility in Boca Chica Beach. In January, SpaceX submitted a request to lease a portion of Terminal Island to resume their plans to build Starship in Los Angeles. On Thursday (February 20), the L.A. Board of Harbor Commissioners voted to approve a new request for SpaceX to lease a piece of the land to establish a new Starship production facility. The L.A. City Council is scheduled to grant final approval next week. The Board of Harbor Commissioners President Jaime Lee said:
"I’m really excited to see what SpaceX will be able to bring for the future of not only space exploration and technology in Los Angeles, but also to the Port of Los Angeles."
SpaceX's ultimate goal is to transform humanity into a spacefaring civilization, Starship will be a fully reusable spacecraft capable of transporting 100 passengers plus 100 tons of cargo on long-duration voyages. So, setting up multiple Starship production facilities enables the rocket company to speed up the development of the spacecraft. 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.
SpaceX plans to use the Port of Los Angeles facility for conducting research, designing and manufacturing. The permit would last 10 years, covers 12.4 acres at a location known as Southwest Marine in Terminal Island, it also offers an option to expand to 19 acres. When the 10 year permit expires, SpaceX will have the option to renew the deal for two 10-year extensions. According to a document by the Port of Los Angeles, new SpaceX facility could create 130 jobs. The Los Angeles City Council Joe Buscaino, said:
"I’m confident that we’re doing our part in securing this lease and keeping [SpaceX] here for the long haul. The lesson I’ve learned is, because this industry is so fluid, there could be surprises along the way. And I’m hopeful that the surprise is the expansion of the workforce."
The port’s director of cargo and industrial real estate, Marisa Katnich, said that SpaceX did not submit any construction plans, for now the company will repurpose and refurbish five buildings on the land they will lease, and says SpaceX might add tent-like structures.
SpaceX is rapidly building the first Starship prototype (pictured above) that will perform high-altitude test flights at Boca Chica, but the company aims to speed up development in order to conduct their first orbital flight before this year ends. The company's "aspirational" goal is to send Starship cargo missions to Mars in the year 2022, then conduct a space tour around the moon for their first Starship customer, Yusaku Maezawa, in 2023. Read more: SpaceX Starship will take Japanese entrepreneur Yusaku Maezawa on a journey around the Moon.
Matthew Thompson, senior director of environmental health and safety at SpaceX, said:
"We have ambitious goals for the [L.A. port] site, ambitious timetables."
During Thursday’s meeting, Harbor Commissioner Lucia Moreno-Linares, mentioned how years prior, SpaceX postponed their L.A plans to build a facility, she hopes that this time "everybody delivers on their promises."
About the Author
Evelyn J. Arevalo joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover news as a Space Journalist and SpaceX Starbase Texas Correspondent. Evelyn is specialized in rocketry and space exploration. The main topics she covers are SpaceX and NASA.