SpaceX Expanding Operations in Redmond, Los Angeles

Elon Musk (Credit: SpaceX)

Elon Musk’s SpaceX continues to expand, with the company setting up a satellite research and development (R&D) laboratory in Washington State and expanding the space it leases from the Port of Los Angeles.

The R&D laboratory is designed for SpaceX’s planned 4,425-satellite constellation that would provide Internet and other communications services around the world.

SpaceX has taken on a 40,625-square-foot facility in Redmond, Wash., that will become a research and development lab for its ambitious satellite operation.

The warehouse-style space in the Redmond Ridge Corporate Center, owned by M&T Partners, is slated for a $2.1 million interior remodeling job, according to a permit application filed last month with King County.

SpaceX is already using a 30,000-square-foot office building that’s about a 10-minute drive away in Redmond.

Setting up the lab, and hiring the engineers who will work there, marks a significant ramp-up for SpaceX’s presence in the Seattle area’s Eastside region. The California-based company’s billionaire founder, Elon Musk, established the Redmond operation in 2015 to develop satellites that would provide global internet access.

Meanwhile, SpaceX is looking to expand its footprint at the Port of Los Angeles to handle recovered Falcon 9 first stages.

The Board of Harbor Commissioners will vote at its Thursday morning meeting on a deal to enlarge Space Exploration Technologies Corp.’s footprint at San Pedro’s outer harbor. The company hopes to lease 4.6 acres of land and water area along Berths 51 to 53 for $23,735 a month, plus insurance and any incidental costs.

In addition to extra space, the lease agreement allows the company to have berthing rights, install a chain-link fence around the property, build a concrete rocket-support pedestal, and add an office trailer, guard shack and portable restrooms, according to a staff report prepared for the commission.

Last year, SpaceX entered into its first contract to park equipment at the port in San Pedro. It leased about 2 acres to store the specially made barge it uses to recover launched rockets at sea. That vessel, which the company calls an “autonomous spaceport drone ship” named Just Read the Instructions, received the Falcon 9 rocket booster that delivered 10 communications satellites to orbit on Jan. 14 from Vandenberg Air Force Base.