SpaceX’s $43 Million Building In Texas Could Be Its New Headquarters Or Its Bakery 

SPACEX-HEADQUARTERS-HAWTHORNE-CALIFORNIA
SpaceX's headquarters in Hawthorne, California. Image: Alan Boyle/Geekwire

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Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX) is planning to build a large facility in Texas as it ramps up its testing of the Starship next generation launch vehicle platform in the state. SpaceX is currently headquartered in Hawthorne, California, where it also manufactures its Falcon 9 rockets, and it filed plans for a new building in Texas at the close of last month. Spotted first by a real estate building community in Texas, the plans outline a 521,521 square foot facility with an estimated cost of $43 million. SpaceX's headquarters in Hawthorne covers a slightly larger area of 533,000 square feet, and the filing raises questions about whether the company is planning to move its headquarters to Texas or use the new building for other purposes, such as manufacturing satellites, heat shields and/or engines.

SpaceX Files Plan For Large Facility In Bastrop Texas That Might Serve As Its Next Headquarter

The report from Sierra Azul Partners links back to a filing made to the Texas regulatory authorities on August 31st, which based on the details, is likely to have originated from SpaceX. The owner of the building is listed as a "Deven Dreyer" with the address "1 Rocket Rock McGregor, Texas 76657" - the same address for SpaceX's engine testing facilities for both its Merlin 1D engines and the Raptor 2 engines for Starship.

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Project cost for the new building is outlined as a cool $43 million and it will cover an area of 521,521 square feet. For comparison, a baseball field is roughly 2,800 square feet, and SpaceX's headquarters in Hawthorne, California covers an area of 533,000 square feet.

The cost and the area coupled with the crucial role that Texas will play in SpaceX's future lead to several interesting possibilities for the new site. Neither SpaceX nor the architectural firm listed for the project responded to Sierra Azul's request for comment. Starting date for the project is estimated to be in October and the ending date in July 2023.

The heat shield for the first stage Starship, which is the largest in the world according to Elon Musk. Image: SpaceX/YouTube

Unhelpfully, it also lists the scope of work as a "Shell Building", which is simply a term that refers to the exterior structure of a building without providing details about its internal layout. These details can vary with the intended use of a structure, as for instance, an office building will have a different layout as compared to a manufacturing facility.

The filing is not the first time that we have seen Texas surface in relation to SpaceX. A job listing posted by the company last year outlined that SpaceX plans to manufacture "millions" of Starlink user terminals and other consumer gadgets such as WiFi routers in the state. Right now, SpaceX manufactures the Starlink satellites and user terminals in its facilities in Washington, and the routers are sourced from Taiwan from a contract manufacturer.

Since future Starlink satellites will be launched by Starship, SpaceX might end up shifting satellite production to Texas as well, in order to reduce its transportation and shipment costs and time. The second generation satellites are larger than the spacecraft currently in orbit, and the size of the new building suggests that it might end up being a manufacturing facility.

Another possibility is SpaceX shifting its heat shield manufacturing facility, also located in California, to Texas. Affectionately dubbed as the "bakery", this small factory is responsible for manufacturing the heatshield tiles for SpaceX's crew and cargo Dagon spacecraft and also for Starship's upper stage spacecraft. All these vehicles are designed to reenter the Earth's atmosphere which brings them into contact with high temperatures and requires thermal protection to avoid damage.

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Finally, Texas could also be where SpaceX's next headquarters are located, as its chief Mr. Elon Musk and president and chief operating officer Ms. Gwynne Shotwell have both relocated to the lone star state. Musk plans to launch dozens of Starships from Texas, and having his company's headquarters in close proximity to the launch site would serve as a motivating argument for a potential move. He has also previously shared details for shifting some Raptor 2 engine production to McGregor.

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