Pieces of SpaceX’s ambitious plans to expand its hefty foothold in Texas were fully featured this week in three very different corners of the internet. CEO Elon Musk speculated on Twitter about a proposed city in Texas called Starbase, while new job descriptions on the company’s website hinted at a projected mass production plant for the Starlink satellite. The company withdrew its latest move in a protracted legal battle for methane-rich land to supply Starship with fuel.
Here is an analysis of the latest details.
Musk, who said he was moving to Texas and committed to more projects in the state last year despite California pandemic restrictions, said Tuesday he wanted to create a city called “Starbase” in Texas, teasing a new idea on Twitter as the company expands its space. imprint elsewhere in the state.
That footprint, first planted in Lone Star State more than a decade ago, is growing rapidly in Musk’s efforts to build a “gateway to Mars.” SpaceX is headquartered in Hawthorne, California, but the development of its Mars Starship rocket is primarily based in the more business-friendly state of Texas. Local and state incentives and a wealth of high-end real estate to build reusable rockets, orbital classes, met Musk’s rapid development deadline.
“Creating a Starbase City in Texas,” he announced on Tuesday, adding in a response to a Twitter user that Starbase would cover “an area much larger than Boca Chica” – a small community in south Texas that currently houses a growing SpaceX test and manufacturing facility. for Starship.
Creating the city of Starbase, Texas
– Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 2, 2021
SpaceX has made no official effort to rename Boca Chica, other than addressing county officials with the idea of incorporating the city in recent days, officials in Cameron County said.
“If SpaceX and Elon Musk would like to go this route, they must abide by all state statutes of incorporation,” Cameron District Judge Eddie Treviño said in a statement. “Cameron County will process all relevant applications in accordance with applicable law.”
Musk’s Starbase tweet arrived when SpaceX announced a new job for remote engineers in Austin, where it said the company is “opening up at a new, modern manufacturing facility” that will aim to “produce millions of consumer-oriented devices that deliver to me directly customers (Starlink cookware, Wi-Fi routers, mounting hardware, etc.). “
“Up to 25% travel to SpaceX headquarters in Los Angeles until the facility in Austin is fully established,” read one of the job requirements. The Starlink production facility would become Musk’s second Austin-based venture. Last year, Musk announced that Tesla would build the Gigafactory Texas, a billion-dollar, 4-5 million-square-foot facility currently under construction. Musk said it would “basically be an ecological paradise” for the public and the company’s expected workforce of 5,000 employees.
Musk’s move from California seems to be accelerating SpaceX’s growth in Texas that began a few years ago. In 2013, Texas created the Spaceport Development Corporation, which has since awarded $ 13.2 million in economic incentives to SpaceX. And the rocket engine development plant at McGregor, Texas, first leased in 2003, is undergoing a $ 10 million upgrade, with $ 2 million in local government subsidies.
La Pita Wells
Two SpaceX LLCs, Dogleg Park and Lone Star Mineral Development, bought dozens of properties in Boca Chicau, surrounding the Starship plant. A few miles from Boca Chica, Lone Star secured an oil and gas lease from a company called Sanchez Oil and Gas Corporation to revive two inactive wells called La Pita Wells. SpaceX plans to use methane extraction wells, one of two propellants used for its new Starship-powered Raptor engine.
But in true SpaceX fashion, the situation has become more complicated. Lone Star’s attempt to manage the wells is now facing a legal battle. Dallas Petroleum Group, an oil and gas company operating in South Texas, says it owns the wells. In a lawsuit against SpaceX LLC and Sanchez, Dallas Petroleum Group is demanding that the court force Sanchez to return the wells on behalf of DPG. Lone Star of SpaceX claims the wells have been inactive for years, making them ripe for a new lease.
In a closing statement filed Monday, Lone Star’s attorneys said DPG “doesn’t actually plan to run La Pita Wells,” and his lawsuit to cancel Lone Star’s lease “is part of a plan to extract money from SpaceX.”
“It simply came to our notice then [SpaceX] they can produce these properties by re-entering these inactive wells and resuming production for use in connection with their rocket plant operation, ”attorney Lone Star said during a hearing in January. In a statement Monday, Lone Star’s attorneys noted that SpaceX and its LLC “have a unique ability to use natural gas with a variety of economic incentives …”
On SpaceX’s career page, the company is looking for a legal advisor who can help “negotiate complex construction and supplier contracts related to space / airport infrastructure development.”