Musk Wants More Seattleites to Build Satellites for SpaceX

[Updated, 1/13/15 at 11:38 am. See below.] Elon Musk, CEO of Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX), says the company’s Seattle office could eventually employ “several hundred people, maybe a thousand people,” in what would be a major boost to Washington state’s commercial space industry.

Musk made the comments in an interview with Bloomberg News posted Tuesday. Bloomberg reports that the company is focused on building a commercial satellite business to generate revenue and expertise in communications to further its “ultimate goal of enabling human life on Mars.”

“We’re going to try and do for satellites what we’ve done for rockets,” Musk told Bloomberg in an interview at SpaceX’s Hawthorne, CA, headquarters. The Seattle engineering office would ultimately employ “several hundred people, maybe a thousand people.”

The company currently lists seven openings in Seattle, one of nine locations across the country where SpaceX operates. The open positions are in avionics and hardware design and include antenna engineers, hardware project leads, a microwave engineer, and a system network architect. GeekWire reported last fall that SpaceX was tapping engineers from Microsoft for a local office, which will apparently be based in Bellevue, WA. And last year, Boeing revealed plans to transfer 1,000 research engineering jobs out of Washington, presenting an opportunity for the likes of SpaceX to hire engineers—some with national security clearances—who do not want to relocate to keep their jobs.

SpaceX did not respond to a request for comment this morning. [Update: A SpaceX spokesman says the company has nothing to add to Musk’s comments at this time.]

The Seattle office would give three of the world’s space-aspiring billionaires—Musk, Jeff Bezos, and Paul Allen—a local presence. Amazon founder Bezos’ Blue Origin and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen’s Stratolaunch Systems (actually based in Huntsville, AL) also have facilities in the Seattle area. Other newcomers to commercial space, such as Planetary Resources, in Bellevue, have made a big splash.

The new wave of companies bolsters a commercial space industry anchored by long-tenured companies including Boeing, which has had Puget Sound-area workers focused on space since the early 1960s, and Aerojet Rocketdyne, which builds rocket engines in Redmond, WA, that have sent spacecraft to every planet in the solar system.

There is also significant work being done here on antennas, such as the new metamaterials-based designs from Kymeta, the Intellectual Ventures spin-out.

Washington State Space Coalition

Washington State Space Coalition

In 2013, the state Office of Aerospace held its first Washington space meeting, inviting some 18 businesses and institutions to discuss ways the state could help grow this part of its already strong aerospace industry. Since then a more formalized Washington State Space Coalition is being formed, with plans for a first meeting at the end of the month, says Alex Pietsch, who heads the state aerospace office, in an e-mail.

“Obviously, this is a huge win for Washington state,” Pietsch says of the SpaceX office. “We’re thrilled to have one of the world’s leading companies engaged in private space exploration choose to establish a presence here. We believe the combination of Washington’s century of aerospace innovation and industry leadership, combined with the incredible brain power that has been developed by our information technology industry, make this the ideal place to engage in space product development.”

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  • Shawn Riddick

    Rocket propulsion systems cause severe damage to our mesopause/mesosphere and once the point of no return is reached, catastrophic failure will occur. Our government is holding the information classified. Please google warningfromgod, the failure of our atmosphere is foreseen in the Bible also. The destruction of Earth is occurring now. Satanic aliens have full control of our space extinction policy.