SpaceX to build Mars ships in Texas, not Los Angeles, in wake of layoffs

SpaceX founder Elon Musk tweeted that development of Starship will continue in Hawthorne but prototypes will be built in south Texas. The company …

HAWTHORNE, CALIFORNIA – SpaceX said Wednesday that it will build test versions of its Mars spaceship in south Texas instead of the Port of Los Angeles in another blow to the local economy that comes days after the company announced massive layoffs.

The decision was made to streamline operations, the Hawthorne, California-based company said in a statement.

SpaceX won approval last year to lease 19 acres at the port’s Terminal Island. It planned to erect a new facility to do work on the interplanetary spacecraft, now called Starship, and its launch vehicle, the Super Heavy, which would be the largest rocket ever built.

The port facility would have allowed the giant craft to be barged or shipped to launch sites. It could have added about 700 jobs to the area.

SpaceX now won’t proceed with that option.

SpaceX founder Elon Musk tweeted that development of Starship will continue in Hawthorne but prototypes will be built in south Texas. The company has a launch facility in Boca Chica near Brownsville, where one prototype of the spacecraft already has been assembled.

“We are building the Starship prototypes locally at our launch site in Texas, as their size makes them very difficult to transport,” Musk said.

SpaceX will continue using its existing port facilities to recover its reusable Falcon rockets and Dragon spacecraft, which arrive by water.

Southern California officials have talked about luring high-tech operations to boost the waterfront and create a “Silicon Harbor.”

“While we are disappointed that SpaceX will not be expanding their operations at the Port of Los Angeles, we are pleased that they will continue their recovery operations here,” port spokesman Phillip Sanfield said. “Our ongoing work with SpaceX and other advanced technology companies is important to our efforts to advance the port through innovation and new technologies.”

Los Angeles City Councilman Joe Buscaino said he felt crushed by the decision, but “I feel confident that other innovators will see the huge value they get in San Pedro.”

Last Friday, SpaceX announced it would lay off 10 percent of its roughly 6,000 workers, most of them at its Hawthorne headquarters. The company said it needs to become leaner to accomplish ambitious and costly projects such as the Starship and Starlink, which would create a constellation of satellites to provide space-based broadband internet service.

Development costs for those two projects have been estimated at up to $10 billion each.

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SpaceX to build Mars spaceship in Texas, not Los Angeles

SpaceX says it will build test versions of its Mars spaceship in south Texas instead of the Port of Los Angeles, dealing another blow to the local …

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SpaceX said Wednesday that it will build test versions of its Mars spaceship in south Texas instead of the Port of Los Angeles in another blow to the local economy that comes days after the company announced massive layoffs.

The decision was made to streamline operations, the Hawthorne, California-based company said in a statement.

SpaceX won approval last year to lease 19 acres at the port’s Terminal Island. It planned to erect a new facility to do work on the interplanetary spacecraft, now called Starship, and its launch vehicle, the Super Heavy, which would be the largest rocket ever built.

The port facility would have allowed the giant craft to be barged or shipped to launch sites. It could have added about 700 jobs to the area.

SpaceX now won’t proceed with that option.

SpaceX founder Elon Musk tweeted that development of Starship will continue in Hawthorne but prototypes will be built in south Texas. The company has a launch facility in Boca Chica near Brownsville, where one prototype of the spacecraft already has been assembled.

“We are building the Starship prototypes locally at our launch site in Texas, as their size makes them very difficult to transport,” Musk said.

SpaceX will continue using its existing port facilities to recover its reusable Falcon rockets and Dragon spacecraft, which arrive by water.

Southern California officials have talked about luring high-tech operations to boost the waterfront and create a “Silicon Harbor.”

“While we are disappointed that SpaceX will not be expanding their operations at the Port of Los Angeles, we are pleased that they will continue their recovery operations here,” port spokesman Phillip Sanfield said. “Our ongoing work with SpaceX and other advanced technology companies is important to our efforts to advance the port through innovation and new technologies.”

Los Angeles City Councilman Joe Buscaino said he felt crushed by the decision, but “I feel confident that other innovators will see the huge value they get in San Pedro.”

Last Friday, SpaceX announced it would lay off 10 percent of its roughly 6,000 workers, most of them at its Hawthorne headquarters. The company said it needs to become leaner to accomplish ambitious and costly projects such as the Starship and Starlink, which would create a constellation of satellites to provide space-based broadband internet service.

Development costs for those two projects have been estimated at up to $10 billion each.

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SpaceX to build Mars ships in Texas, not Los Angeles

HAWTHORNE, Calif. (AP) — SpaceX says it will build test versions of its Mars spaceship in south Texas instead of the Port of Los Angeles, dealing …

HAWTHORNE, Calif. (AP) — SpaceX said Wednesday that it will build test versions of its Mars spaceship in south Texas instead of the Port of Los Angeles in another blow to the local economy that comes days after the company announced massive layoffs.

The decision was made to streamline operations, the Hawthorne, California-based company said in a statement.

SpaceX won approval last year to lease 19 acres at the port’s Terminal Island. It planned to erect a new facility to do work on the interplanetary spacecraft, now called Starship, and its launch vehicle, the Super Heavy, which would be the largest rocket ever built.

The port facility would have allowed the giant craft to be barged or shipped to launch sites. It could have added about 700 jobs to the area.

SpaceX now won’t proceed with that option.

SpaceX founder Elon Musk tweeted that development of Starship will continue in Hawthorne but prototypes will be built in south Texas. The company has a launch facility in Boca Chica near Brownsville, where one prototype of the spacecraft already has been assembled.

“We are building the Starship prototypes locally at our launch site in Texas, as their size makes them very difficult to transport,” Musk said.

SpaceX will continue using its existing port facilities to recover its reusable Falcon rockets and Dragon spacecraft, which arrive by water.

Southern California officials have talked about luring high-tech operations to boost the waterfront and create a “Silicon Harbor.”

“While we are disappointed that SpaceX will not be expanding their operations at the Port of Los Angeles, we are pleased that they will continue their recovery operations here,” port spokesman Phillip Sanfield said. “Our ongoing work with SpaceX and other advanced technology companies is important to our efforts to advance the port through innovation and new technologies.”

Los Angeles City Councilman Joe Buscaino said he felt crushed by the decision, but “I feel confident that other innovators will see the huge value they get in San Pedro.”

SpaceX says it’ll build and test Starship prototypes in Texas rather than Los Angeles

SpaceX says it’ll build and test the prototypes for its next-generation Starship space cruiser and Super Heavy booster in South Texas, despite a deal it …

SpaceX says it’ll build and test the prototypes for its next-generation Starship space cruiser and Super Heavy booster in South Texas, despite a deal it struck to build a rocket factory at the Port of Los Angeles.

At least by some accounts, the turnabout is a setback to Los Angeles’ efforts to build a high-tech “Silicon Harbor” at the port, with SpaceX’s planned 18-acre site on Terminal Island as the centerpiece. The Los Angeles City Council approved a 20-year lease agreement with billionaire CEO Elon Musk’s company in May.

City Councilman Joe Buscaino, who touted the deal as “game-changing for our city” when it was approved, spread the news today (and tried to look at the bright side) in an early-morning pair of tweets:

While I feel crushed about #SpaceX pulling the #SuperHeavy out of the @PortofLA, I feel confident that other innovators will see the huge value they get in San Pedro. (1/2)

— Joe Buscaino (@JoeBuscaino) January 16, 2019

We are well on our way toward creating an innovation district and #SiliconHarbor where you can take a water taxi or a @Bird or @Lime scooter to work. @ElonMusk saw the value, others will too. (2-2)

— Joe Buscaino (@JoeBuscaino) January 16, 2019

SpaceX, based in Hawthorne, Calif., confirmed the change of plans in a statement:

“To streamline operations, SpaceX is developing and will test the Starship test vehicle at our site in South Texas. This decision does not impact our current manufacture, design, and launch operations in Hawthorne and Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Additionally, SpaceX will continue recovery operations of our reusable Falcon rockets and Dragon spacecraft at the Port of Los Angeles.”

The development isn’t a complete surprise, for a couple of reasons. Over the past few weeks, the first version of the Starship test vehicle, known as the Starship Hopper, has been taking shape at SpaceX’s South Texas facility near Boca Chica Beach — and Musk has said that short-hop test flights would be launched from Texas as well, potentially in March or April.

Having the hardware built close to where it’s tested is more in line with SpaceX’s drive to make its operations leaner, as the company emphasized in last week’s announcement of workforce reductions.

“We are building the Starship prototypes locally at our launch site in Texas, as their size makes them very difficult to transport,” Musk explained today in a tweet.

However, Musk also said development work for Starship and its methane-fueled Raptor engines would continue to be done at SpaceX’s Hawthorne headquarters. He said any confusion about SpaceX’s plans was due to “our miscommunication.”

If SpaceX follows through on Musk’s grand plan, Starship is destined to become the company’s primary transport vehicle for trips to and from the moon, Mars and other solar system destinations. Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa has already signed up for a round-the-moon trip on the Starship in the 2023 time frame, and Musk wants to begin sending settlers to Mars in the mid-2020s.

The Super Heavy booster would be used to push the refuelable Starship out of Earth’s gravity well, and then it would fly itself back to its landing pad. Last month, Musk said in a tweet that Super Heavy hardware would “start getting built in spring.”

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Twenty Percent Of Alaskans Don’t Have Access To Broadband Internet. This Satellite Startup Aims …

Meanwhile, SpaceX and Virgin-backed OneWeb are pursuing a satellite internet strategy that involves putting hundreds of tiny satellites into low Earth …
Astranis engineers running tests

Astranis engineers running testsAstranis

Internet satellite startup Astranis, which aims to deliver cost-effective high-speed internet to underserved markets, announced Wednesday that it has signed an exclusive agreement to provide satellite bandwidth to Alaska-based internet provider Pacific Dataport.

Under the terms of the contract, Astranis launch a single satellite in 2020 that will provide 7.5 Gbps of bandwidth. Pacific Dataport will use a portion of the available bandwidth to provide internet services to business. Those businesses include Microcom, which provides residential internet services and launched Pacific Dataport as a separate venture two years ago.

In the short term, though, this satellite will open up broadband internet to Alaska, where about 20% of the population doesn’t have any access to broadband internet. Obtaining access to broadband internet for rural areas in the U.S. is still an ongoing struggle, and this problem is particularly acute in Alaska, where a small population is spread out over a large area filled with rugged terrain that makes traditional fiber-optic or cable systems difficult to build. According to Astranis, its satellite will roughly triple the satellite capacity currently available to Alaska and enable Pacific Dataport to reach customers who otherwise wouldn’t be able to access high-speed internet.

“In Pacific Dataport founder Chuck Schumann, I’ve found someone whose passion for bridging Alaska’s digital divide is strikingly similar to mine for bridging it anywhere in the world people are cut off from high-speed Internet,” Astranis CEO John Gedmark wrote in a blog post.

The deal promises to be a lucrative one for Astranis. According to the company, its contract with Astranis will bring in “10s of millions of dollars” in revenue. Additionally, there’s a revenue-sharing upside to the agreement if Astranis meets certain goals that the company did not disclose.

That’s a pretty fast pace for a commercial space startup. Founded in 2015, Astranis delivered its first satellite to orbit in January of 2018 and announced a $13.5 million series A the following March. Pacific Dataport will be Astranis’ first customer, but the company states that it’s involved in conversations with other potential customers.

In the world of satellite internet, Astranis is charting its own course. Traditional satellite internet companies have built large, geostationary satellites that cost hundreds of millions of dollars. Meanwhile, SpaceX and Virgin-backed OneWeb are pursuing a satellite internet strategy that involves putting hundreds of tiny satellites into low Earth orbit.

Astranis, meanwhile, is building satellites that are significantly smaller than traditional satellites (which can be as big as a small car)—weighing around 750 pounds and about the size of a dryer. That’s comparable to the size of the satellites proposed by SpaceX and OneWeb, but Astranis is targeting geostationary orbits for its satellites, meaning it won’t need to build nearly as many.

The ability to simply place one satellite into geostationary orbit to cover a single geographic area is something that the company hopes will give it a leg up over other competitors in a potentially huge market. Morgan Stanley estimates that satellite internet providers could be generating over $500 million in revenue by 2040.

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