For a while there, during the lull, not only were no Brownsville jobs posted on SpaceX’s online job board, Brownsville wasn’t even on the list of places the company has its operations — Cape Canaveral, Fla., McGregor, Texas, or SpaceX’s Hawthorne, Calif., headquarters, for instance.
That was the case even though the company broke ground ceremonially on its Boca Chica launch site in September 2014 to much fanfare. It may not be a hiring wave exactly, though the recent spate of job postings on the SpaceX website nonetheless underscore the fact that things are picking up at the Boca Chica site, where so little was happening for so long that skepticism about the company’s plans inevitably began to take root.
The sudden appearance of a retro-looking, gleaming, stainless-steel rocket prototype (the Starship Hopper) at Boca Chica in late December did much to dispel doubts. The craft is the first test version of the massive Starship spacecraft and Super Heavy booster that SpaceX chief Elon Musk is planning to use to one day to send humans to Mars.
The job board is currently advertising for five jobs at Boca Chica, among them a tank fabricator/welder to build the Starship and Super Heavy primary airframes, according to the posting.
“The tank fabricator will work with an elite team of other fabricators and technicians to rapidly build the tank (cylindrical structure), tank bulkheads, and other large associated structures for the flight article design of both vehicles,” it reads.
SpaceX is also looking for a Tank Fabrication Supervisor “responsible for leading a team of fabricators, welders and technicians building the Primary and Secondary structures for the Starship and Super Heavy vehicles,” according to SpaceX.
The supervisor will take technical direction from the company’s engineering team and be the main driver of day-to-day progress at the build site, says the ad, also serving as a “key enabler to a productive, fun and hard-working culture.”
For this reason, it’s important that the supervisor be “an inspiring leader, often-times working side by side with their build team,” according to the posting. SpaceX also has two openings for security officers (Level 1 and Level 2) and an Environmental Health and Safety Specialist at Boca Chica.
The new job postings come soon after SpaceX’s decision to move construction of the Starship and Super Heavy prototypes from the Port of Los Angeles to Boca Chica as part of a company effort, announced Jan. 11, to “streamline operations,” entailing a 10-percent reduction of its 6,000-strong workforce.
According to a Jan. 16 tweet from Musk, “Starship & Raptor (engine) development is being done out of our HQ in Hawthorne, CA. We are building the Starship prototypes locally at our launch site in Texas, as their size makes them very difficult to transport.”
Repairs are being done to the top portion of the Starship Hopper, which was heavily damaged when high winds snapped its moorings late on Jan. 22 or early on Jan. 23. Before the accident, low-altitude vertical takeoff and landing tests (hopper flights) were set to begin as early as February or March. How long the accident will delay the first tests is unknown, though Musk tweeted after the incident that repairs should take “a few weeks.”
On Feb. 3, Musk tweeted dramatic video of the first firing of the new Raptor engine the Raptor that will propel Starship, the tests taking place at SpaceX’s McGregor engine-testing facility.