Although its corporate headquarters is located in Hawthorne, California, SpaceX has selected Los Angeles as the home of its new Big Falcon Rocket (BFR) manufacturing facility. According to Ars Technica, the aerospace manufacturing company will build the new facility on an 18-acre plot right outside of Long Beach. Here, SpaceX will perform research and development processes as well as manufacturing processes related to the BFR.
Given the high cost of real estate in Los Angeles, you might be wondering why SpaceX would choose this area for its upcoming manufacturing facility. While SpaceX has yet to announce its reasons for choosing this location, a document released by the Port of Los Angeles indicates that the company plans to transport the newly constructed BFRs via water. So, by building its new manufacturing facility near Long Beach, SpaceX can easily transport the BFRs without relying on land-based transportation methods.
Announced by CEO Elon Musk in 2017, the BFR is SpaceX’s next-generation rocket that includes a reusable vehicle. While still in development, Musk says the BFR will eventually replace the company’s Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets. Perhaps the greatest aspect of the BFR its ability to be used multiple times. Traditional launch vehicle are good for one use. After propelling the shuttle, satellite or payload into orbit, the vehicle crashes down to Earth where the debris is collected and salvaged. The BFR, however, can be used multiple times, thus lowering the cost of launches.
The advent of the BFR could pave the way for new space exploration missions. More than a decade ago, Musk unveiled a personal goal of creating permanent human settlements on Mars. While that may sound like science fiction, SpaceX is already working towards achieving this goal, and the company’s new BFR manufacturing facility in Los Angeles is a step in the right direction.
According to new information nabbed from the FCC website by CNET, Elon Musk’s SpaceX satellite internet project is finally nearing a launch date, and it’s planned for much sooner than most would expect.
The letter as presented by the FCC states that the first two demo satellites will be launch this weekend, February 17 at 6:17 AM PT. As prototypes, they are more of a proof of concept than something that would actually be usable for the program. If all goes well, though, it could pave the way for an operational model as soon as 2019, says SpaxeX vice president of satellite affairs Patricia Cooper.
Taking off from the Vandenberg Air Force Base, the two satellites named Microsat-2a and Microsat-2b will be launched using one of the company’s Falcon 9 rockets. Coming along with them will be a radar observation satellite from Spain known as Paz.
This rocket launch is part of a project known as Starlink, which hopes to utilize low-orbiting satellites to provide cheap internet services to everyone across the planet. Estimated to cost upwards of $10 billion upon completion, Musk hopes to have everything in operation by 2024 provided there are no significant delays.
In truth, however, universal internet access is not the real goal of Starlink. As Musk himself said in 2015, the purpose of the project is to eventually help fund his plan to colonize Mars. “This is intended to generate a significant amount of revenue, and help fund a city on Mars.”
With many unknowns left to be sorted out as well as plenty of chances for catastrophic failure along the way, it seems unlikely a Mars colony will be happening quite so soon. Starlink itself, though, is more than likely poised for completion within the next few decades, which is good news for people around the world hoping for more options in home internet services (despite what some internet service providers might have to say on the matter).