SpaceX Scraps Carbon Fiber Manufacturing Facility
New photos released online show SpaceX has utterly destroyed their BFR manufacturing site in the Port of Los Angeles proving the company is all in on building their next generation rockets out of stainless steel instead of carbon fibre.
The large tent was first built at this location to house specially designed carbon fibre tooling machines which would be used to create the main sections of the upcoming Starship rocket. The advanced carbon fibre tooling machine was produced by Ascent Aerospace and delivered to the site in early 2018. After delivery, SpaceX started using the machine to build hull sections and tanks for the upcoming SpaceX Starship rocket.
A significant shift for SpaceX appears to have appended late last year as the company slowed production at the location, and in January 2019 SpaceX opened a new manufacturing and test facility near Boca Chica, Texas. This new facility saw the construction of the first Starship text vehicle designed to test the rockets ability to land vertically. The significant change with this test rocket was its construction. Unlike the previous versions of the Starship, this test ship was built out of Stainless Steel instead of carbon fibre. Initially, it was thought this was just for testing purposes, but Elon Musk stated on twitter that the Starship would be switching to using stainless steel instead of carbon fibre. This change was due to stainless steel being far easier to work with than carbon fibre. Stainless steel also proved to be astronomically cheaper, thus lowering the cost of each Starship and Super Heavy rocket.
Now less than 12 months after the tent at the Port of Los Angeles was built, its been torn down. Also by looking at the photos, it appears all the advanced carbon fibre tooling machines inside were also scrapped.
It's a massive move by SpaceX and one that undoubtedly cost the company tens of millions of dollars. This change could prove to be a google one for SpaceX allowing the company to build its new ships faster and cheaper. Thought if there are issues with the stainless steel construction it could prove to be a significant setback for SpaceX to rebuilt this carbon fibre tooling facility.