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LA Mayor, Eric Garcetti, has given SpaceX approval to build its Mars-bound rocket at the Port of Los Angeles.
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SpaceX plans a rocket and spaceship facility at the Port of Los Angeles that will help advance founder Elon Musk’s goal of making missions to Mars by 2022.

The private space company plans to build a system called “BFR” — short for Big Falcon Rocket — at the facility. BFR will only be movable by barge or ship, necessitating a port location. SpaceX is headquartered in a Los Angeles suburb and the company already uses the port in other missions.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti gave the news at his annual State of the City address Monday.

“This is a vehicle that holds the promise of taking humanity deeper into the cosmos than ever before,” Garcetti said in the speech. “And this isn’t just about reaching into the heavens. It’s about creating jobs right here on Earth.”

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SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has some “big freaking” plans for his latest rocket project.
USA TODAY

The facility could create as many as 700 jobs, according to SpaceX. Musk presented plans for BFR last fall, saying the new rocket would replace others known as Falcon 9, Falcon Heavy and Dragon. The company’s website says BFR could be used for cargo trips and the eventual colonization of life on Mars, as well for high-speed travel on Earth.

“SpaceX has called the Port of Los Angeles home to our West Coast recovery operations since 2012 and we truly appreciate the City of Los Angeles’ continued partnership,” said SpaceX president and COO Gwynne Shotwell in a statement emailed to USA Today.

The Los Angeles Board of Harbor Commissioners will vote on whether to approve a 19-acre lease on Thursday. According to the meeting agenda for that vote, SpaceX seeks a 10-year lease with two 10-year options to extend. The rent would be almost $1.4 million per year initially.

City Councilman Joe Buscaino, who represents San Pedro and the neighboring harbor area, is an advocate for the project, which he said would propel the waterfront community “to the brightest future it’s ever seen.”

Buscaino said he can envision SpaceX workers commuting via ferry and bike. Perhaps even Musk himself would move in, he said. 

Because members of the Board of Harbor Commissioners are appointed by the Mayor, Buscaino said he’s confident the plan will be approved Thursday. It would then be sent to the Trade, Travel and Tourism Committee, which Buscaino chairs, and would get a final vote from the city council.

“This agreement…would allow the Port of Los Angeles to further build on the science and technology job clusters that have been envisioned at our port and public waterfront,” said the port’s executive director Gene Seroka in a statement emailed to USA Today.

The port is also home to a marine research lab called AltaSea, which is partnered with ocean conservation efforts at Catalina Sea Ranch and The Boeing Company. With those developments, North America’s busiest cargo port seems to be moving toward a science- and tech-focused future.

“With AltaSea at the Port of Los Angeles, and now SpaceX, San Pedro is the new home to both space and sea exploration,” Buscaino said.

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