HAWTHORNE, Calif. (CBSDFW.COM/AP) — SpaceX said it will build its Mars spaceship in South Texas instead of the Port of Los Angeles.
The Southern California-based company announced Wednesday, test versions of its Starship and Super Heavy rocket will be assembled at its Texas launch facility in a move to streamline operations.
Development of the spaceship will continue at the SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California.
SpaceX won permission last year to build a giant new facility on leased land at the port, which could potentially have added hundreds of jobs to the region.
Last week, SpaceX announced that it will lay off about 10 percent of its roughly 6,000 workers, mostly from its Hawthorne headquarters.
SpaceX founder Elon Musk tweeted that development of Starship will continue in Hawthorne but prototypes will be built in south Texas. The company has a launch facility in Boca Chica near Brownsville, where one prototype of the spacecraft already has been assembled.
“We are building the Starship prototypes locally at our launch site in Texas, as their size makes them very difficult to transport,” Musk said.
SpaceX will continue using its existing port facilities to recover its reusable Falcon rockets and Dragon spacecraft, which arrive by water.
Southern California officials have talked about luring high-tech operations to boost the waterfront and create a “Silicon Harbor.”
“While we are disappointed that SpaceX will not be expanding their operations at the Port of Los Angeles, we are pleased that they will continue their recovery operations here,” port spokesman Phillip Sanfield said. “Our ongoing work with SpaceX and other advanced technology companies is important to our efforts to advance the port through innovation and new technologies.”
Los Angeles City Councilman Joe Buscaino said he felt crushed by the decision, but “I feel confident that other innovators will see the huge value they get in San Pedro.”
Last Friday, SpaceX announced it would lay off 10 percent of its roughly 6,000 workers, most of them at its Hawthorne headquarters. The company said it needs to become leaner to accomplish ambitious and costly projects such as the Starship and Starlink, which would create a constellation of satellites to provide space-based broadband internet service.
Development costs for those two projects have been estimated at up to $10 billion each.
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)