SpaceX’s First BFR Manufacturing Facility Might Be in Los Angeles
A new document from the Port of Los Angeles indicates that the company is moving ahead with plans to build a "state-of-the-art" industrial manufacturing facility near Long Beach, about 20 miles south of its headquarters. The document summarizes an environmental study of the site for the port, on behalf of a proposed tenant—WW Marine Composites, LLC. This appears to be a subsidiary company of SpaceX.
The company seeks to use an 18-acre site at Berth 240 in the port "for the construction and operation of a facility to manufacture large commercial transportation vessels." Operations at the site would include "research and development of transportation vessels and would likely include general manufacturing procedures such as welding, composite curing, cleaning, painting, and assembly operations." Completed vessels would need to be transported by water due to their size, the document states, as a means to explain why the company needs a facility immediately adjacent to the water.
The document also noted that the 10-year lease, with up to two 10-year renewals, would "accommodate recovery operations undertaken by Space Exploration Technologies to bring to shore vehicles returning from space that are retrieved by an autonomous drone ship offshore." This would be for first-stage recoveries of the Falcon 9 rocket and probably payload fairings as well.
The company did not confirm that the facility will be used for the BFR. Asked for comment, SpaceX spokeswoman Eva Behrend told Ars, "SpaceX is in preliminary discussions with the Port of LA about the potential of leasing additional land for operations."
However, an independent source confirmed that this facility is, indeed, intended for the manufacture of the BFR rocket in Los Angeles.
It is not clear when SpaceX would begin manufacturing vehicles in the new facilities. However, the company may begin testing the large "spaceship" portion of the BFR at its Brownsville, Texas, launch site some time in 2019. This would include testing during short "hops" of the seven Raptor engines that will provide propulsion for the spaceship portion of the BFR.
Source: ARS Technica