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Space Transportation United States Technology

SpaceX Indicates It Will Manufacture the BFR Rocket In Los Angeles (arstechnica.com) 95

A new document from the Port of Los Angeles indicates that the company is moving ahead with plans to build a "state-of-the-art" industrial manufacturing facility near Long Beach, about 20 miles south of its headquarters. It's possible that the facility may be used to manufacture the company's Big Falcon Rocket, or BFR vehicle, which is expected to measure 106 meters tall and nine meters wide. The Long Beach location makes sense since the BFR will be so large that it needs to be built near water where it can be transported. Ars Technica reports: The company seeks to use an 18-acre site at Berth 240 in the port "for the construction and operation of a facility to manufacture large commercial transportation vessels." Operations at the site would include "research and development of transportation vessels and would likely include general manufacturing procedures such as welding, composite curing, cleaning, painting, and assembly operations." Completed vessels would need to be transported by water due to their size, the document states, as a means to explain why the company needs a facility immediately adjacent to the water. The document also noted that the 10-year lease, with up to two 10-year renewals, would "accommodate recovery operations undertaken by Space Exploration Technologies to bring to shore vehicles returning from space that are retrieved by an autonomous drone ship offshore." This would be for first-stage recoveries of the Falcon 9 rocket and probably payload fairings as well.
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SpaceX Indicates It Will Manufacture the BFR Rocket In Los Angeles

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  • BFR (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    If you yell Big Falcon Rocket really aggressively it sounds like big fuckin rocket.

    • by MrKaos ( 858439 )

      You mean something like, "Hey that one Big Falcon Rocket".

      I think the way the boosters separate after take off means that it is a Big Forking Rocket, however I wouldn't know because I am not a forking rocket scientist.

      • It's already a Big Flying Rocket at that point in time, isn't it?
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        I think the way the boosters separate after take off means that it is a Big Forking Rocket, however I wouldn't know because I am not a forking rocket scientist.

        Actually, the one with the side boosters is the Falcon Heavy. Different rocket.

        BFR has no side boosters: just one big spaceship with a big booster underneath. The spaceship can also fly by itself without the booster and would even be capable of single stage to orbit according to Musk. They plan to test that part next year (on the Musk calendar, which differs from the Gregorian calendar by a few years).

    • by mfh ( 56 )

      As long as it's not BAD FUCKING ROCKET, we'll be ok. =)

    • I bet that's what Musk calls it in private.
    • And if you say it really low, with your inner voice, it says that anyway.
    • by quenda ( 644621 )

      Not a coincidence, Beavis.
      Musk has said that the BFR name is derived from the BFG weapon in Doom. [wikipedia.org]
      The humour lies in implying (but not saying) Big Fucking Rocket. The "falcon" version came later.

    • It also suggests that Musk named his rockets Falcon just to set this up. Falcon isn't a bad name for a rocket family, but doing it to set up a pun seems a little much.

  • Not Texas? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mentil ( 1748130 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2018 @04:03AM (#56295733)

    Actually, manufacturing the BFR in California is not so obvious. The only launchpad they own outright (once construction is complete), rather than the 3 they are currently leasing, is in southeast Texas [wikipedia.org]. Sure they could boat the rocket from California to Texas' eastern coast via the Panama Canal... but having the manufacturing be close enough to ship via land easily, or at least on the same coastline would make more sense. I find it more likely that this California facility will produce cheaper, high-volume rockets launched from the west coast (probably Falcon 9's), or relatively small components that can be easily shipped across the country (crew capsules). It's possible the new spaceport coming online around the same time as the BFR won't be used to launch the latter, I suppose.

    • by blkhawk ( 786915 )

      Well, why not just fly the assembled BFR to the launch pads they are to be used at suborbitally? I think that's whats eventually gonna happen.

      • maybe with drones ?
        • the first stage weights 3,065,000 kg. with drones able to carry 100Kgs, that would take 30650 drones. hmm, that's not really realistic ...
          • That seems unusually heavy. I know that it isn't going to be light, but are you giving the weight with fuel? Seems like it would be much easier, and no doubt safer, to ship it empty regardless of how it's being moved.
            • I wondered about that myself, but I could not find 'empty weight'. but even when it only weighs 1000t, it would still take 10000 drones.
              • by quenda ( 644621 )

                Yes, 3000 tons is the fully fuelled mass.
                  I don't think they have publicly stated the dry mass, but it will be a small fraction of that.
                Falcon 9 first stage dry mass is only 5% of the fuelled mass. Its mostly fuel tanks.

                So I'm guessing 100 to 150 tons. You could probably strap that on top of a 747, like they did with the shuttle orbiter. Or the An-225.

    • I think that they should drive rocket from California to Texas using its own power.

    • but having the manufacturing be close enough to ship via land easily

      The rocket size exceeds typical road clearance, so shipping over land is not an option for most destinations.

      • The rocket size exceeds typical road clearance, so shipping over land is not an option for most destinations.

        They could do what they did with the shuttle boosters: Manufacture in sections, ship them by rail, and then connect the sections with O rings.

        That worked well.

    • Berth 240 [google.com] (the property mentioned in the article) also has rail access. I don't think something this big could ship on rail, but Boeing has (and continues to?) ship 737 fuselages by rail...

    • Might be an issue of resources in Hawthorne. Much easier to wed the two and optimize short-term benefits-- there is a lot invested at Hawthorne.

    • SpaceX won't be making many Block 5 Falcon 9s. They're reusable up to a hundred times with refurbishment, ten times without, they hope. They are already deliberately dunking the Block 3s into the ocean - they don't need them anymore, and they're out of storage room.

      I agree that havng the factory next to Boca Chica makes more sense, but they said they're shipping them via the Panama Canal. I guess the talent doesn't want to relocate from LA to Brownsville Texas.

      That factory is gonna build spaceships.

      • by mentil ( 1748130 )

        I'm wondering why they don't recover the obsolete engines and sell them for scrap. All that aluminum must be worth the recovery costs, right?

    • Unfortunately, reality blows a hole the size of Texas into your nonsensical fantasy (it's so disconnected from reality, I cannot in good conscience call it a theory): BFR can't be shipped by land, it has to go by sea. The "cheap high volume rockets" you fantasize about don't exist, and F9's are *already* being produced (and being shipped by land) on the west coast. In the same vein, a production facility for capsules and engines (which can also be shipped by land) already exists. As their existing faci

  • LA sounds a good place to build BFR and a space port.

  • It's Big fucking rocket. Get the name right man. It's Big Fucking Rocket!!!
  • Why not just launch it from the manufacturing site and land it at the destination? Its landability is the big selling point, right?

    (I'm almost entirely kidding)

    • Since
      1. They already know how to land on a barge,
      2. SeaLaunch proved you can launch from a floating platform (based in Long Beach, btw),
      3. you want miles of emptiness around you when launching, especially during development,
      4. there was a floating rocket port in the BFR presentation,
      I expect SpaceX to eventually build a launch barge that will set out from LA, go south and/or west, and launch; first to another barge, later to their facilities in FL and TX.

  • It's more like Walken as in Christopher Walken.

  • It mystifies me why anyone would put any new manufacturing in California, with high taxes and even higher cost of living. If you need to be on the coast there are lots of other states on the water, most of which don't involve sailing through the Panama Canal just to reach the east coast...

    • Hmmm. Could it be that high taxes correlate to good quality of life? Maybe if Texas taxed rich people and corporations like California does, it could afford to build a more livable society for its citizens. And then maybe SpaceX engineers would want to live there.

      • Hmmm. Could it be that high taxes correlate to good quality of life?

        Having lived in a number of places, and having visited CA a lot, I can assure you there is little correlation between a high tax rate and quality of life.

        Even the weather in CA is not THAT great, though it's mildly warm much of the time.

        Maybe if Texas taxed rich people and corporations like California does

        I didn't even mention Texas. What a moron. But Houston does have better food (and greater diversity) than any city in CA. How is that n

      • Hmmm. Could it be that high taxes correlate to good quality of life?

        Not in California, they certainly don't. In California, an unrealistically high salary correlates with good quality of life, despite the taxes.

    • Because.. That's where the engineers are (or so the theory goes).

      I don't know many engineering folks who'd relish living in/around Brownsville TX, the Louisiana coast or other available areas on the east side of the canal.

    • It mystifies me why anyone would put any new manufacturing in California, with high taxes and even higher cost of living.

      I suppose it depends on what you're manufacturing.

      It's not necessarily a bad thing to have engineers close to manufacturing--especially for something as technical as a rocket. If changes need to be made, they can happen quickly and conveniently. If the engineers are in California, it's worthwhile to have manufacturing in California.

      There's also a difference between "manufacturing" and "mass production." Yeah, if I were building 30 million widgets which I wanted to sell as cheaply as possible, I'd probabl

      • It's not necessarily a bad thing to have engineers close to manufacturing--especially for something as technical as a rocket. If changes need to be made, they can happen quickly and conveniently. If the engineers are in California, it's worthwhile to have manufacturing in California.

        Sure, but over time engineers are not going to want to live there either as house rates continue to climb. There are engineers that live all over the country - and engineers that want to work on rockets you'd think would be loc

        • Sure, but over time engineers are not going to want to live there either as house rates continue to climb.

          Housing costs are climbing pretty much anywhere the average person would want to live. California is not unique in this respect.

          engineers that want to work on rockets you'd think would be located more around Houston or the Kennedy Space Center in Florida

          You'd think that - but only if you didn't know that California is the hub of the aerospace industry, not Houston or Kennedy.

          Given they

          • I don't know if he has any idea what he is talking about, but most of your assertions are also nonsense.

            There are lots of hubs of the aerospace industry, Cali being one of them. You've got Seattle, Atlanta, Huntsville, Houston, the Space Coast, Ogden.... Other aerospace companies are building new factories in these locations to take advantage of the existing workforce and the proximity to their customers.

            SpaceX is keeping manufacturing in Cali because that's where they already are and therefore that's whe

            • There are lots of hubs of the aerospace industry, Cali being one of them

              The one that's bigger than all the others you list - combined. To the extent that they are "hubs" that is... Seattle is an aerospace hub? Don't make me laugh. It has Boeing and Blue Origin... and not much else. Ditto Huntsville and Houston - largely NASA and NASA contractors. Etc... etc... In fact, I don't think you even grasp what "hub" means as a descriptive term.

              Etc... etc...

              And none of those reasons a

              • Ha ha! Yeah... you got me.... Seattle only has Boeing.... The largest aerospace company in the world. That tiny little thing. More than double the size of all of the others, save Airbus.

                And the third biggest behind Airbus is Lockheed Martin. Sure, the Marietta facilities outside Atlanta from the Martin/Marietta days aren't fancy and new... but they are pretty big. Anyway, at least they are headquartered in Cali... Oh wait... no they aren't. They're over in Maryland, near DC where all that sweet gover

                • Anyway, my point was to provide a rebuke for the unnecessary and ill-conceived "you have no idea what you are talking about" directed at SuperKendall.

                  I supported your point that shipping costs don't really enter into the equation, but nothing you replied with addressed his central point, which was about the time cost of shipping around through the Panama canal. It seems like you missed what he was getting at, so I'll take a swing at it on his behalf.

                  So let's say that it takes the better part of a month to

    • by Alioth ( 221270 )

      Because the people with the skillsets to do these things want to live in California. Places that are nice tend to be expensive because there is high demand to live there, good old supply and demand at work. Places that are cheap tend to be cheap because they aren't all that desirable.

      Engineers that can command good pay probably don't want to live in mosquito infested places full of religious fundies such as Alabama. They probably don't want to live in the flyover states where there's no coast and fewer fun

  • by inicom ( 81356 ) <aem@inic[ ]com ['om.' in gap]> on Wednesday March 21, 2018 @04:32PM (#56299899) Homepage

    They should've looked at the abandoned Aerojet facility in Miami - quick intracoastal access up to Cape Canaveral from here.
    https://www.abandonedfl.com/ae... [abandonedfl.com]

How many NASA managers does it take to screw in a lightbulb? "That's a known problem... don't worry about it."

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