SpaceX just got approval to build Mars spaceships in Los Angeles from the city's mayor
- Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti gave his annual "State of the City" speech on Monday.
- During the speech, Garcetti announced that SpaceX will build Big Falcon Rocket ships for Mars in the Port of Los Angeles.
- SpaceX, founded by Elon Musk, applied for permission to build a 200,000-square-foot factory at the site, called Berth 240.
- It seems inevitable the rocket company will win approval and begin construction on its Mars spaceships.
It's hard to imagine where in Los Angeles, a crowded city of four million people, that you might build a spacecraft taller than the Statue of Liberty and capable of colonizing Mars.
But during an annual speech on Monday, Mayor Eric Garcetti said SpaceX, the rocket company founded by tech mogul Elon Musk, is about to do just that."If this year has taught us anything, it is to think big - to go after something unreachable. We have the confidence to look up to the stars, and the guts to realize our dreams," Garcetti said during a live broadcast.
"Today, I am pleased to officially announce that SpaceX will start production development of the Big Falcon Rocket in the Port of Los Angeles. This is a vehicle that holds the promise of taking humanity even deeper into the cosmos than ever before."
A 19-story booster on the bottom will help rocket a 16-story spaceship on top into orbit, according to the most recent designs shared by Musk.
The vehicle is designed to burn liquid methane, since the fuel could be manufactured on many planets and moons in the solar system, including Mars.
What's more, it's intended to be fully reusable and quickly refuel-able.If Musk and SpaceX succeed in building it, it could upend the entire rocket industry on Earth due to its presumable low cost (much like the relatively low cost of booking a flight around the world inside a reusable jet airplane).
What Garcetti's approval means for SpaceX
SpaceX manufactures most of its rocket parts at the company's headquarters in Hawthorne, California, which is within LA city limits.
But the scale of BFR demanded by Musk was other-worldy - end to end, a completed rocketship may stretch more than 348 feet tall - so SpaceX began scouting a new location, and one that wouldn't be too far from thousands of employees.
Public documents show SpaceX ultimately asked for permission to lease a site called Berth 240 at the Port of Los Angeles, which is about 14 miles south of Hawthorne.
SpaceX needs approval from the port's Board of Harbor Commissioners, though, because it wants to build a 200,000-square-foot Mars rocketship factory on a historic site. (The berth was used after World War II to build Victory ships that helped bring US soldiers home.)
Computer renderings of the building's design suggest the company will load spaceship and booster segments onto barges and ship them to Texas, where SpaceX has both a launchpad and rocket-testing-and-development facility.
Although the board has yet to issue its ruling, Garcetti's seal of approval seems to dispel any doubt that SpaceX has secured permission, especially with SpaceX's pending influx of half a billion dollars."This isn't just about reaching into the heavens," Garcetti said. "It's about creating jobs right here on Earth."
SpaceX appears ready to build ships for Mars
SpaceX doesn't appear to be waiting for the board's imminent approval.
The company has erected a roughly 20,000-square-foot tent on a berth that SpaceX already leases from the port. And inside, according to an image shared by Musk and photos obtained by Teslarati, the company is amassing tools to build carbon-fiber-composite frames for the BFR.
SpaceX did not immediately respond to Business Insider's questions about the machinery, its purpose, and the schedule for BFR fabrication.
Assuming the spaceship doesn't explode during initial testing, SpaceX will begin work on the booster.
Musk said late last year that his "aspirational" timeline for a first BFR launch to Mars will happen 2022, followed by the first crewed mission in 2024.Shotwell said. "I want to find people, or whatever they call themselves, in another solar system."