The Los Angeles City Council unanimously approved a lease agreement Tuesday that will allow SpaceX to build rockets capable of interplanetary travel at the Port of Los Angeles.
Mayor Eric Garcetti confirmed rumors last month that the Hawthorne-based company was expanding its Los Angeles-area operations to Terminal Island. There, SpaceX plans to construct a new manufacturing facility for its Big Falcon Rocket, which company founder Elon Musk predicted would be capable of reaching Mars by 2022.
“This is game-changing for our city,” said Councilmember Joe Buscaino, who represents the harbor area. He suggested that the facility would be a “landing ground for innovation” at the city’s port.
SpaceX will have use of 19 acres at the port that were once part of the Southwest Marine shipyard, where naval destroyers were built during World War II. Initially, the company plans to erect an 80,000-square-foot facility on the site, but the complex can eventually be expanded to over 200,000 feet.
The harbor-side location will allow for construction of the enormous rockets, which will be too big to transport by road, according to a report from city staff. Around 700 employees are expected to work at the new facility, which the company could start building in just a few weeks.
Because SpaceX is developing the site on its own dime, the company will effectively be able to avoid rental payments for 20 years. After that, SpaceX will pay around $3 million per year for the site.
City staff report that the company plans to have a shell of the new manufacturing structure completed before the end of the year.