The Los Angeles City Council signed off Tuesday on a proposal by SpaceX to use an 18-acre site at the Port of Los Angeles to build a rocket for manned flights to Mars.
On a 11-0 vote, the council adopted a recommendation by the Board of Harbor Commissioners to approve an environmental review for the project proposed at Terminal Island, clearing the way for a 10-year lease, with up to two 10-year extensions at a beginning rent of $1.38 million annually.
“This is game-changing for our city, and for the harbor area communities,” said Councilman Joe Buscaino, who represents the Port of Los Angeles.
The Hawthorne-based rocket maker already leases 8.1 acres in San Pedro’s Outer Harbor, where rocket boosters and other spacecraft returning from orbital missions can be docked.
But the new facility on the former Southwest Marine Shipyard will be used to build the company’s Big Falcon Rocket for possible missions to Mars and to transport passengers around the world in record time. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk predicts the rocket will be ready for a launch to Mars by 2022.
SpaceX wants to use the port so that it can ship the rocket parts by sea to potential launch sites in other parts of the country, as the vessels would be to large to transport by land.
According to a project description in a California Environmental Quality Act review, “the vessels, once complete, would be too large for delivery by road and thus must be taken via supply barge, necessitating the facility be located adjacent to the water.”
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