SpaceX Will Build Its Next-Gen Mars Rocket in Los Angeles

SpaceX will build its "BFR" spaceship at a new facility in the Port of Los Angeles, Mayor Eric Garcetti announced yesterday (April 16).

The company plans to use this ambitious new vessel — whose acronym name stands for "Big Falcon Rocket" (or a less-family-friendly version of that name) — to send people to Mars by 2024 and set up a colony on the Red Planet within the next 50 to 100 years. Elon Musk, SpaceX's founder and CEO, has said that the BFR could also send people to the moon, launch satellites to low Earth orbit, clean up orbital debris and transport passengers around Earth at record speeds.

Requiring additional space for this enormous new endeavor, SpaceX decided to open up a new facility in the Port of Los Angeles, located roughly 20 miles (32 kilometers) south of the company's headquarters in Hawthorne, California. [The BFR: SpaceX's Mars-Colonization Architecture in Images]

"Officially announcing that @SpaceX will start production development of the Big Falcon Rocket in the @PortofLA! This vehicle holds the promise of taking humanity deeper into the cosmos than ever before," Garcetti tweeted after his State of the City address.

Artist's illustration of SpaceX's BFR Mars rocket lifting off. (Image credit: SpaceX)

According to documents posted online by the Los Angeles Board of Harbor Commissioners, SpaceX's new site takes up about 18 acres (7.3 hectares) on Terminal Island, a small industrial zone between the San Pedro neighborhood of Los Angeles and the city of Long Beach, California.

After an initial 10-year lease, SpaceX will have the option to renew the lease for the next two decades, which means the company and its BFR activities could be sticking around Terminal Island for the next 30 years. The rent will cost SpaceX approximately $1.38 million per year, the Associated Press reported.

"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," Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX's president and chief operating officer, said in a statement provided to

"As announced today by Mayor Garcetti, the Port will play an increasingly important role in our mission to help make humanity multi-planetary as SpaceX begins production development of BFR — our next generation rocket and spaceship system capable of carrying crew and cargo to the moon, Mars and beyond," she said.

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Hanneke Weitering
Contributing expert

Hanneke Weitering is a multimedia journalist in the Pacific Northwest reporting on the future of aviation at and Aviation International News and was previously the Editor for Spaceflight and Astronomy news here at As an editor with over 10 years of experience in science journalism she has previously written for Scholastic Classroom Magazines, MedPage Today and The Joint Institute for Computational Sciences at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. After studying physics at the University of Tennessee in her hometown of Knoxville, she earned her graduate degree in Science, Health and Environmental Reporting (SHERP) from New York University. Hanneke joined the team in 2016 as a staff writer and producer, covering topics including spaceflight and astronomy. She currently lives in Seattle, home of the Space Needle, with her cat and two snakes. In her spare time, Hanneke enjoys exploring the Rocky Mountains, basking in nature and looking for dark skies to gaze at the cosmos.