SpaceX vision for outer space may start on Terminal Island

The Hawthorne-based spacecraft company wants to expand its production facility

Big Falcon Rockets anchor a Martian colony, as imagined by SpaceX
Big Falcon Rockets anchor a Martian colony, as imagined by SpaceX

SpaceX’s ultimate goal is to help people live on other planets, but right now the Hawthorne-based company wants to expand its footprint on this one.

An entity tied to Elon Musk’s rocket and spacecraft firm has designs to build a sprawling production center on Terminal Island.

The Board of Harbor Commissioners — which oversees the Port of Los Angeles — approved WW Marine Composites’ plans for a 10-acre production and development site for “specialized transportation vessels.” That could include SpaceX’s Big Falcon Rocket, the massive interplanetary vehicles capable of reaching Mars, Curbed reported.

The new facility would be located at the now vacant site of the Southwest Marine shipyard, and anchored by a 105-foot-tall, 203,000-square-foot structure.

The transportation vessels in discussion are too large to be hauled on roads, instead requiring direct access to water for transportation via barge for testing and delivery, according to plans.

That means they are larger than SpaceX’s current rockets, which are now manufactured 20 miles north in Hawthorne, then trucked to the harbor and loaded on barges. SpaceX would also move recovery operations for its other rockets to the Terminal Island site.

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The harbor commissioners still have to approve a 10-year lease for the project to move forward, and a SpaceX spokesperson said the company is in “preliminary discussion” with the Port of L.A. about leasing additional land, according to Curbed.

Getting to Mars isn’t all Musk has been up to lately. Besides SpaceX’s high-profile launch of his Tesla roadster into space atop one of its rockets, he’s moved forward his rapid transit Hyperloop project. Last August, the city of Hawthorne approved Musk’s plans to build a Hyperloop test tunnel beneath its streets stretching westward from the SpaceX headquarters.

SpaceX and Tesla’s endorsement of Hawthorne has attracted attention to the city. Tech companies, artists, and manufacturers have flocked to there since Musk’s firms moved in a decade ago.

In recent weeks, activity has only increase. Mogul Capital said it will build a 221-room Marriott Courtyard and a 133-room TownePlace Suites in the city; and Houston-based Dinerstein Companies, which develops multi-family homes and student housing, acquired an controversial but approved mixed-use project there, for $18.2 million.[Curbed] — Dennis Lynch