SpaceX has abandoned plans to build Mars-bound spacecraft at the Port of Los Angeles in order to develop the technology at its long term headquarters in Hawthorne, California, and test it at its launch site in Texas.
According to a statement, quoted by CNN, SpaceX has taken the decision in order to “streamline operations. Elon Musk, SpaceX’s founder and CEO, confirmed the news on Twitter.
The source info is incorrect. Starship & Raptor development is being done out of our HQ in Hawthorne, CA. We are building the Starship prototypes locally at our launch site in Texas, as their size makes them very difficult to transport.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 16, 2019
The decision is a setback for the port, which wanted to create a high-tech innovation district to boost the local economy.
The agreement with SpaceX to develop the spacecraft was a big part of that and would have created approximately 700 jobs.
In a tweet published on January 16, Los Angeles city council member Joe Buscaino, expressed his disappointment at the news but insisted others will see the potential of the port.
While I feel crushed about #SpaceX pulling the #SuperHeavy out of the @PortofLA, I feel confident that other innovators will see the huge value they get in San Pedro. (1/2)
— Joe Buscaino (@JoeBuscaino) January 16, 2019
The news comes just days after SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft was towed to the Port of LA after travelling from the International Space Station (ISS), an event PTI reported on.
SpaceX vessels have long been towed to the port after landing in the Pacific Ocean and this will continue.
The announcement is the latest in a series of cutbacks from SpaceX. Last week it said it would lay off 6,000 employees from its Hawthorne headquarters to save money for its two marquee projects – the Starship, a vessel designed to transport people and cargo, and the Super Heavy, a launch vehicle designed to fire the Starship into orbit.
It also plans to launch a constellation of satellites that could potentially beam cheap internet down to Earth.