SpaceX aims to expand its Starlink satellite operation to Texas and set up Starbase City

Starlink antenna with cityscapeSpaceX’s Starlink antenna connects with satellites for high-speed internet access. (SpaceX Starlink Photo)

SpaceX is planning to break ground on a “state-of-the-art manufacturing facility” in Austin, Texas, to support a satellite operation that got its start in Redmond, Wash.

The company’s billionaire CEO, Elon Musk, set up the Starlink satellite operation in Redmond five years ago. It’s now said to turn out six satellites per day for SpaceX’s broadband internet constellation, which is in the midst of an expanding beta test. More than 1,000 of the satellites have already been deployed in low Earth orbit, and SpaceX continues to launch them in batches of as many as 60 at a time.

Starlink is the furthest along of several mega-constellation projects aimed at providing global internet access via satellites in low Earth orbit. Competitors include OneWeb, Telesat and Amazon’s Project Kuiper.

In contrast to SpaceX’s Redmond facility, the Austin factory would build “millions of consumer-facing devices that we ship directly to customers (Starlink dishes, Wi-Fi routers, mounting hardware, etc.),” SpaceX said in a job posting. That part of the operation has been managed from SpaceX’s headquarters in the Los Angeles area.

The spot for an automation and controls engineer is classified as a remote position, and would involve working up to 25% of the time at SpaceX’s California HQ until the Austin facility is fully established.

California has served as the home base for SpaceX since Elon Musk founded the company in 2020, and Musk’s other major corporate concern, Tesla, is based in the Golden State as well. Musk has soured on California over the past year, however, in part due to restrictions put in place during the coronavirus pandemic. Last December, he announced that he’s relocating to the Lone Star State.

Texas is already the main locale for SpaceX’s other grand project, the Starship super-rocket and its Super Heavy booster. Starship prototypes are being tested at SpaceX’s Boca Chica launch facility on the South Texas coast. Eventually, SpaceX aims to use the Starship system for purposes ranging from satellite deployment and point-to-point terrestrial travel to trips to the moon and Mars.

Today Musk signaled that he has big plans for that area, reporting in a tweet that he’ll be “creating the city of Starbase, Texas.” In a Twitter exchange, he said his plans for incorporating a city would extend to “an area much larger than Boca Chica.”

“From thence to Mars, and hence the stars,” he wrote.

We’ve reached out to SpaceX for comment and will update this item with anything we hear back.