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.
Earlier this month, The Wall Street Journal reported that the 4,425-satellite constellation is one of the keys to SpaceX’s long-term business plan – and Musk himself has said satellite revenues would fund his vision of sending thousands of settlers to Mars.
When Musk unveiled the plan in Seattle, two years ago, he said the satellite engineering operation could eventually employ “maybe 1,000 people.” The company’s total employment is in the range of 5,000.
SpaceX hasn’t publicized how many people are now working in Redmond, but the company is listing more than 60 open positions there, including spots for hardware and software engineers, satellite system engineers, designers and project managers.
Last November, SpaceX laid out the details for the satellite constellation in a filing with the Federal Communications Commission. Previously announced schedules have called for the first wave of satellites to be deployed in the 2018-2020 time frame.
The company’s job listings suggest that satellite components will be built and integrated for testing at the Redmond lab. The Puget Sound Business Journal said there were rumors that a manufacturing plant eventually might be put in Kent, Wash., but SpaceX spokesman John Taylor said the company has made no decisions about satellite production facilities.