Starbase: Why SpaceX Is Starting Its Own City:- In late 2018, a local resident of Boca Chica shared an image of a new structure at the SpaceX site. Most believed that it was nothing more than a new water tower.
But after a round of speculation, SpaceX revealed that the structure was indeed the beginning of the starship. At the time, SpaceX’s activity in Boca Chica was extremely quiet. Their entire facility consisted of a small tent at the construction site and a pile of dirt at the launch site.
There were only a few activists and no one really knew how important Boca Chica would be for the development of Starship. Eventually, most people expected the starship to be manufactured in California, where most SpaceX engineers lived and worked.
So why did SpaceX choose Boca Chica as the basis for its starship project? Despite the lack of infrastructure or skilled workforce, Boca Chica offered cheap land in an area that was mostly uninhabited.
This was extremely important for SpaceX because testing rockets on this scale would be quite risky for any nearby occupants. But Boca Chica was not completely uninhabitable. Just next to the construction site was the main village, which had 35 houses.
The place was a dream place for retirees and vacationers, but SpaceX was about to change it. To make the area completely uninhabitable, SpaceX began the process of purchasing the entire city.
And sent letters to the residents, offering to buy their homes at three times the market price. Over the next few years, SpaceX bought more and more land and hired hundreds of workers to start a 24/7 work cycle.
To date, the SpaceX facility at Boca Chica continues to grow, with new plans to expand the launch site and add additional launch mounts and landing pads. But the goal here is not just to build a huge starship factory. SpaceX wants to build an entire city, and call it ‘Starbase’.
Although Boca Chica is an excellent place to launch and land rockets, it is not exactly renowned for its skilled aerospace engineers. Right now, the Boca Chica site includes some local employees and SpaceX employees who fly from California.
Many of these employees are on 6 monthly contracts and shift in and out of SpaceX’s core facilities in Hawthorne and McGregor, Texas. For all these employees, SpaceX has to spend huge amounts of money on travel and accommodation costs.
For his headquarters in California, he has the most talented minds in the world at his doorstep. In the last two decades, this has allowed SpaceX to form the most incredible team of engineers and technicians.
For many young engineers, working at SpaceX is a dream job. But to attract talented people to Boca Chica, SpaceX needs to make the region more attractive.
For Starbase to be a good place to live, the city must have all the amenities that you would normally find in a city. It needs to be a warm and homely place so that workers’ families are also happy to go there.
Last year, SpaceX began construction of a restaurant and a tiki bar right next to the building site, where employees can relax after a day’s work. The restaurant has an outdoor seating area with a large roof made of old starship flaps, a constant reminder of what they are working on.
Many of these projects come under the guidance of a new job, which opened last year as a resort development manager. This job will likely involve designing and planning facilities for their future spaceport.
It will be a glamorous resort for the high-paying customers they expect for their first flights into space. But in fact, space tourism is only a small part of Starbase. Until they can attract workers, nothing like this will happen.
One of the more unique features of Starbase will be the futuristic bar placed at the top of the high bay. The 80-meter tall building has a large gantry crane which is used to stack a large portion of the starship. The bar will be placed just above this area, with glass windows and a 360-degree view from above the starbase.
Parts of the floor will also be made of glass so that employees and visitors can look down and inspect the work being done on the starship. In the future, SpaceX plans to open this bar to the public. But for now, these areas are open only to SpaceX employees.
But where do most of these employees actually live? There is a small campsite just 200 meters from High Bay, with more than 30 Airstream trailers. These retro-style trailers have kitchens and sleeping spaces for up to 8 people. While this seems like an efficient use of space, each trailer can cost between $50 and $100,000.
For that amount, you can get the entire property in Boca Chica Village. But SpaceX has done the same. After purchasing most of the remaining villagers, SpaceX employees moved into these homes and began renovating them until they felt like home.
It is expected that the population of the Starbase will increase to several thousand in the next two years, so there will be a need to construct more houses in the region. So it is clear that Starbase will be more than just a rocket factory or a resort for space tourists.
But how big will Starbase really be and what does SpaceX need to do to start a city? According to Elon Musk, Starbase will cover a much wider area than Boca Chica. It is likely that the unused land between Boca Chica and the nearest town of Brownsville will become part of the Starbase. Right now, Boca Chica is known as an unincorporated village.
This basically means that there are no corporations to provide services such as law enforcement, fire departments, and building maintenance. To include an area, a petition must be initiated with the local county and the details need to be approved by local residents.
In this example, most of the residents are now employees of SpaceX, which can make the process a little easier. But the demand for incorporation is a complex process and is particularly rare for this county, but SpaceX’s grand plans for the starbase have affected areas outside the village of Boca Chica.
The nearby city of Brownsville – where many employees come from – has seen huge changes over the years. As soon as SpaceX entered the city, the state of Texas gave Brownsville millions of dollars in public relief with the aim of improving the city’s presence.
Elon Musk himself has donated more than $ 30 million to the Brownsville area. Now that Starbase’s plans are out in the open, many residents of Brownsville are realizing the opportunities and investing in new businesses.
But for many locals, it is not seen that way. Brownsville is one of the poorest cities in the country, with many residents living in poverty.
Although many locals such as restaurants, shops, and hotels stand to benefit from the advent of SpaceX, people with no business will suffer as the economy grows and taxes increase. For this reason, many locals are completely against the idea of Starbase.
But either way, to see the incredible growth in Boca Chica is mesmerizing. There is no doubt that SpaceX has very grand plans for the Starbase and surrounding areas.
In the next decade, we should transform one of the poorest parts of the country into a thriving industrial city with the hope of becoming the gateway to Mars. It will be a long and difficult journey for all those involved.
But if the history of spaceflight becomes anything, humanity will flourish with the untold progress that Starbase will bring.
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