Monday was a very busy news day for entrepreneur Elon Musk and three of his ventures.
Here’s an update:
Mars rocket in LA
SpaceX plans to open up shop at the Port of Los Angeles where it’ll work on research, design and development of its Mars rocket.
Los Angeles officials said Monday that a tentative lease agreement would allow SpaceX to take over a dormant building at the port in a move that could bring as any as 700 jobs to the area.
The deal is expected to be approved by board of harbor commissioners on Thursday.
SpaceX won’t have to pay rent for the facility for more than two decades. It will get more than $40 million in rent credits for renovating and upgrading the facility, which has been vacant since 2005. The company will not receive any other subsidies from the city.
The Big Falcon Rocket is at the heart of CEO Musk’s plan to settle a colony of humans on Mars.
Musk said in February that SpaceX will soon go all-in on the bold idea and begin dedicating its engineering talent to developing the BFR.
His remarks came after SpaceX aced the inaugural flight of the Falcon Heavy, which became the most powerful rocket currently in operation.
Musk said the Falcon Heavy’s success gave him “a lot of confidence we can make the BFR design work.”
The BFR consists of two major parts: The bottom rocket booster, which is designed to hoist the top portion, a towering spaceship, out of the Earth’s atmosphere.
Musk also has some Earth-based plans for just the spaceship: carting humans around the planet at breakneck speeds. He said the craft will be able to fly people from New York to Shanghai in half an hour.
At the SXSW conference in Austin last month, Musk said construction of the first BFR spaceship was already under construction.
“We are building the first ship, or interplanetary ship, right now,” he said. “And we’ll probably be able to do short flights, short up and down flights, during the first half of next year.”
[A rendering of a hoped-for SpaceX colony on Mars is shown with this post.]
Boring Company raises $113M
Meanwhile, Musk’s Boring Company has raised nearly $113 million – mostly from Musk himself.
In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the tunnel-digging company doesn’t say what the funding is for. But the Boring Company is designing and planning to build a network of high-speed tunnels for mass transportation, which Musk has referred to as “an urban loop system.”
He’s planning to build a network of these transportation tunnels under Los Angeles.
According to the Boring Company, more than 90% of the funding this round came from Musk, with the rest from early employees. The company said there weren’t any venture capitalists or outside investors involved.
Musk has tried other ways to raise money for the drilling company, like selling hats and flamethrowers.
Musk is also the founder and CEO of electric car company Tesla and of SpaceX, a private space company that plans to fly tourists around the moon later this year. Musk said last week that Tesla would start making a profit this year.
The Boring Company faces competition from Virgin Hyperloop One, chaired by Richard Branson, which is developing high-speed transportation technology to send pods hurtling through pressurized tubes at around 600 miles per hour.
Tesla pauses Model 3
Musk has been working hard to convince Tesla investors that production of the company’s first mass market car, the Model 3, is going just fine.
But the electric vehicle maker has now temporarily suspended production of the sedan to work out kinks in its assembly line.
Tesla said Monday that it’s pressing pause in order “to improve automation” and deal with bottlenecks. The company declined to say how long the stoppage would last.
It’s the latest issue for Tesla, whose stock has been battered by worries that it’s behind on production of the Model 3. The sedan is an attempt by the company and Musk, its CEO, to shift from putting out small numbers of luxury vehicles to making cars on a much larger scale.
The production halt was first reported by BuzzFeed, which said it would last four to five days.
“Our Model 3 production plan includes periods of planned downtime in both Fremont and Gigafactory 1,” a Tesla spokesperson said in a statement, referring to the two factories where the Model 3 is made. “These periods are used to improve automation and systematically address bottlenecks in order to increase production rates. This is not unusual and is in fact common in production ramps like this.”
Tesla also had to temporarily stop production in February. The company had the same explanation then.
Earlier this month, Tesla said it was producing about 2,000 Model 3 cars per week – short of its goal of 2,500. The company wants to raise production to 5,000 cars a week in the next three months.
The slow pace of production has raised concerns about whether Tesla can successfully enter the market for mass-produced vehicles.