SpaceX Gets Approval to Build Starship in LA


SpaceX can move forward with its plans to build rockets in Los Angeles following a unanimous vote by the LA City Council. The 12-0 vote paves the way for Elon Musk’s spaceflight company to use a large tract of land at the Port of Los Angeles to conduct research and build components for the upcoming Starship rocket. This spacecraft could eventually take humans to the moon and Mars. 

Residents of LA will be either relieved or saddened to hear that SpaceX’s activities at the Port of Los Angeles will not include launching giant rockets. It will only conduct research, design, and construct the rockets in LA. Still, this will be a big time-saver for SpaceX — the new facility will be close to the company’s LA headquarters. Until now, most work on the Starship has taken place at the SpaceX test facility in Texas. 

SpaceX first leased the site in 2018, agreeing to pay $1.7 million in annual rent. The contract also includes a provision whereby SpaceX can expand its site from 12.5 acres to 19 acres. So, the LA operation can grow along with the Starship program, and Musk is hoping it’ll grow quite large indeed. SpaceX backed out a lease two years ago when it decided to do the initial Starship development in Texas, but this move brings Starship production closer to home. 

The Starhopper prototype hovering at SpaceX’s Texas facility.

The Starship is SpaceX’s next-generation vehicle, intended as a way to reach new destinations in the solar system and to replace the Falcon 9 for short-range trips. SpaceX has even pitched the Starship as a super-fast method to get from one place to another on Earth. The Starship has been tested in a limited form as the “Starhopper” vehicle, which proved the company’s new Raptor engines work as intended. The next step is an orbital test flight, which should take place later this year. 

Musk seems most interested in the Starship as a way to get people to and from Mars — technically, he’s more into the going-to-Mars part. He envisions the Starship ferrying colonists to the red planet where they will live out their days and build a new human society. He says a ticket to Mars will cost a few hundred thousand dollars, but there will be loans available to those who come up short. Although, maybe don’t accept a billionaire’s offer to work off a large loan on another planet. That’s a sci-fi dystopia waiting to happen.

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