SpaceX revives plan to develop launch vehicle manufacturing facility at the Port of Los Angeles

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SpaceX has revived plans to develop a launch vehicle manufacturing facility at the Port of Los Angeles, a little more than a year after it abandoned its original agreement there.

The Los Angeles Board of Harbor Commissioners approved an agreement between the port and SpaceX to lease 12.5 acres of property at the port. The lease would run for 10 years, with options for two 10-year extensions.

In January 2020, SpaceX notified the Harbor Department that it seeks to reestablish its
rights to operate a manufacturing facility at the Port of Los Angeles and secure a term
permit in a similar form to the one previously approved by the Board in 2018.

The lease agreement states that the property will be used for “construction and operation of a facility for research and development, design and manufacture of specialized aerospace vehicles, and water dependent recovery and transportation operations.”

“We’re very inspired by that property,” said Matthew Thompson, director of environmental, health and safety at SpaceX, in testimony at the board meeting. “We are very interested in developing our operations there and I think it presents a unique opportunity for us based on the previous history of the project, and obviously the water access for some of the plans that we have for the project.”

SpaceX and the port had an earlier agreement to lease the property in 2018, when the company said it planned to build a factory there for what was then known as its Big Falcon Rocket, now known as Starship and Super Heavy. The large size of the vehicles requires the water access the port site provided to transport the vehicles to launch sites in Florida or Texas.

The deal is expected to create construction jobs beyond the 130 aerospace jobs, but details are not available.

SpaceX will build a large tent on the site – similar to other projects where they used large tents in other facilities, such as South Texas, for construction work.

The agreement still requires approval by the Los Angeles City Council, which is expected at a council meeting next week. Councillors unanimously approved the original agreement in May 2018.

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