SpaceX will break ground soon on a rocket engine factory near Waco, CEO Elon Musk said Saturday, detailing the plan in a series of posts on social media.
The facility, which will be in McGregor, will be the aerospace company’s second rocket engine manufacturing facility and will produce Raptor 2 engines, Musk wrote on Twitter.
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SpaceX’s Raptor engines are a family of full-flow stage combustion cycle rocket engines designed for use in Starship launch vehicles. Musk said the company’s California factory will focus on SpaceX’s newer Raptor Vacuum engines, a variant designed for vacuum conditions, as well as new and experimental designs.
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The new McGregor facility will produce roughly 800 to 1,000 rocket engines per year, or about two to four engines per day, according to Musk. By big rocket engine standards, the amount is “super high volume” and would make it the highest output and most advanced rocket engine factory in the world, Musk said.
SpaceX already has a significant Texas presence, including in McGregor, where it has a testing facility used for research and development of new rocket engines and thrusters and for testing of final engines and components.
SpaceX leases about 4,280 acres and employs about 500 people in the area, according to the Waco Tribune-Herald, and last year officials allocated $2 million to the company, which plans $10 million in infrastructure improvements on the site. At the time, the Tribune-Herald also reported that the company planned offices in Waco for key personnel.
In far South Texas, SpaceX has an operations center called Starbase near Boca Chica, about 20 miles east of Brownsville. It includes a production facility and a launch site where the company tests its Starship rocket prototypes.
Musk said the new engine production factory would be in McGregor because of “challenges” at the South Texas site. He did not give details.
“The challenges of operating at Starbase left us with no choice but to put engine production in McGregor,” Musk tweeted.
In June, Musk said in a Twitter post that he lives primarily in a Boca Chica home worth $50,000 that he rents from SpaceX. He previously said he moved to Texas last year to be closer to his two biggest focuses, SpaceX’s South Texas facility and the Tesla facility currently being built in Austin.
The billionaire also said Saturday that he intends to use the new engine production facility near Waco to help fuel his plan for a city on Mars by 2050. Musk said the engines will be needed for a fleet of rockets to be used over a 10-year period to create the city, which he predicts will take about 20 years to build.
“That’s about what’s needed over ten years to create the fleet to build a self-sustaining city on Mars. City itself probably takes roughly 20 years, so hopefully it is built by ~2050,” Musk wrote.
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The company also appears to have plans for growth in Austin. In March, SpaceX posted new job openings for engineers in Austin that said the company is “breaking ground on a new, state of the art manufacturing facility.”
The company has not announced any official plans for the region, nor has it said where the facility might be, but the posts provided a glimpse of the manufacturing that could occur at the site.
Last year, Musk announced that Tesla had chosen Travis County as the site for a $1.1 billion factory. It will produce Tesla’s Cybertruck, Semi, Model 3 company sedan and other vehicles, and it will include a battery manufacturing element It is expected to start production this year.
Neuralink, Musk’s neurotechnology company, also had job postings for Austin in recent months, though the company’s plans are not clear. And last summer, Musk moved his private foundation, the Musk Foundation, from California to Austin.
His infrastructure and tunneling company also seems to have Central Texas operations. The Boring Co. is renovating a space in Pflugerville and has multiple job postings for Austin. A company affiliated with the company also bought 73 acres in Bastrop County in May. The company first hinted that it was hiring in Austin with a cryptic tweet last year.