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SpaceX is planning to build its new ‘BFR’ space vehicles in Los Angeles

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Los Angeles is already home to the stars, but soon, the city could be helping us reach out toward the real stars — or really, to planets. In his annual State of the City address on Monday, April 16, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced that Elon Musk’s SpaceX would be building its Big Falcon Rocket ships in none other than the Port of Los Angeles. The Big Falcon Rockets (or BFR for short) have an ultimate goal of exploring Mars, a goal that Musk hopes to accomplish by 2022.

“This is a vehicle that holds the promise of taking humanity deeper into the cosmos than ever before,” Garcetti said in the speech. “And this isn’t just about reaching into the heavens. It’s about creating jobs right here on Earth.” The facility bring with it as many as 700 jobs, as per SpaceX.

The facility will span a whopping 200,000 square feet, and will be known as Berth 240. Because the BFR will be, as the name suggests, really big, it will require a barge or ship to move, which means its facility must be located at a port. Given that SpaceX is a Los Angeles-headquartered company, and is already using the Port of Los Angeles for other missions, it comes as no surprise that it was one of Musk’s top choices for the new factory.

“SpaceX has called the Port of Los Angeles home to our West Coast recovery operations since 2012 and we truly appreciate the City of Los Angeles’ continued partnership,” said SpaceX president and COO Gwynne Shotwell in a statement emailed to USA Today.

And it’s not just SpaceX who is eager to get this new project off the ground. Rather, the team behind the Port of Los Angeles also views the new facility as an enormous opportunity to further develop Los Angeles as a hub of innovation. As the port’s executive director Gene Seroka told USA Today, “This agreement … would allow the Port of Los Angeles to further build on the science and technology job clusters that have been envisioned at our port and public waterfront.”

So what exactly could we expect to see come out of the new project? The BFR is a seriously large piece of machinery, and is meant to carry 100 people and 150 tons of cargo beyond Earth’s atmosphere. There’s a 190-story booster that will help to power a 16-story spaceship into orbit, and is meant to burn liquid methane. This is particularly useful, as that type of fuel is capable of being manufactured on several different planets and moons, including, as luck would have it, Mars. And despite the BFR’s intimidating size, it’s meant to be reusable and quickly refuel-able.

Should the BFR come to fruition, SpaceX could be paving the way toward a new standard in space travel, as the rocket will be much cheaper to operate and maintain, and could herald the beginning of commercial space travel.

Of course, it’ll be awhile yet before we see the BFR in all its glory, but in the meantime, you might want to keep an eye on the Port of Los Angeles. It seems that there could soon be quite a few exciting developments to see.

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