Rumors have been swirling that SpaceX will build its much-anticipated Big Fucking Rocket (BFR) near a wharf in Los Angeles. During his State of the City address on Monday, Mayor Eric Garcetti confirmed that the spacecraft Elon Musk has touted as the future of human spaceflight to Mars will be constructed in the Port of Los Angeles.
The city and aerospace company have worked out a tentative lease agreement that would let SpaceX make use of a vacant building as the rocket’s construction facility. While Mayor Garcetti seemed enthused to make this announcement, the city’s board of harbor commissioners still needs to approve the deal Thursday before SpaceX gets busy renovating the place. The port is located near SpaceX’s headquarters in Hawthrow, and with its proximity to waterways, BFR could be moved via boat as a much safer alternative to transporting the potentially 348 foot (106 meter) rocket by road.
This is a monumental step in realizing the rocket company’s biggest promises of getting humans to Mars by 2024 and achieving city-to-city transportation aboard BFR. Redditors on the SpaceX subreddit were ecstatic about what the future might hold, like the possibility of BFR deploying itself to other launch sites across the country.
“It looks like BFR manufacturing is going to be domiciled in California, which will represent a dramatic space activity balancing between the two States: Florida and California,” writes RazvanI. “It is also close to the core of SpaceX rocket developers which is another big advantage. After all, if everything goes well, BFR may be self-deploying to other launching sites, like Florida and Texas, thus avoiding sensitive shipments through unknown territory.”
A video published by SpaceX in September 2017 showed a computer simulation of BFR jumping from city to city with short, sub-orbital flights. This could suggest that the Port of Los Angeles could one day be a hub of spacecraft autonomously launching themselves, much like an airport but for rockets. However, other Redditors were skeptical about this and pointed out that fuel costs and regulations could inhibit this plan.
“I don’t see self-deployment happening any time soon,” writes izybit. “Fuel costs a lot and launching a rocket that close to a city and over-populated land is not gonna fly. Maybe after point to point has been proven safe we will see but the fuel costs will probably determine the viability of the plan.”
Whatever the future holds for BFR, securing a space to construct the rocket is the first step in an ambitious plan to chance spaceflight forever.