What the SpaceX Launch Site Means for South Texas Economy and Living
The opportunity to work at SpaceX and help send the next generation of rockets into space is the kind of career that many people dream of. This is, after all, one of the few places in the world in which “Starship Mechanical Engineer” is an actual, real-life job and not something found on the SyFy Channel.
The chance to work on cutting-edge science and engineering is bringing more and more people to south Texas – Brownsville in particular – and having a real impact on the economy and the living situation in the area.
Of course, many of the jobs at SpaceX may be temporary – just a few weeks or months spent at the launch site rather than at the HQ – and there are many internship positions, as well. This means that all these new, if temporary, jobs are changing the way people think about staying in the area.
So, what is it like to have the SpaceX launch site in your backyard? What’s it like to work in Texas on the next generation of rockets and starships?
What Is the Economic Impact of SpaceX in South Texas?
The SpaceX spaceport is really the first of its kind – a rocket launching site that is built entirely by a private company, not the government or NASA.
Texas, which is to say: Houston, has always been associated with space launches, and the Johnson Space Center was the primary command center for so many manned missions to space. Now, Texas is still tied to space travel, but the location has changed.
When the Brownsville port was announced, estimates suggested that it would create more than 500 direct jobs in a ten year period and draw $85 million in capital investment to the city and generate $51 million in annual salaries.
And that’s just from this one company.
When something like SpaceX comes to town, you can expect an entire “ecosystem” of aeronautical and engineering firms to come with it.
Then, of course, there’s a whole new tourist industry that comes with a company like this. People come to watch the launches or for a sort of “field trip” to see how the private sector is revolutionizing space travel.
(Since Residology is one of the only providers of temporary housing in the Brownsville area, we can help you really get the most out of your scientific field trips.)
The residential homes that are really close the launch site, it should be stated, are going through some issues. When SpaceX initially bought its land back in 2014, they believed they were far enough away from the nearest homes that it wouldn’t cause any problems for the homeowners. Recent developments, though, are requiring some re-evaluations.
What’s It Like to Work at SpaceX?
If you’re truly interested in working at SpaceX in Texas, it won’t take you long to find any number of reports on the work-life situation.
After a cursory look, we found several interesting and impressive accounts of life in space technology. This one is a little older, but it seems to be pretty representative of the experience.
It talks about how the company has grown significantly over the years, but it still maintains a “fairly flat organizational structure.” This means that you’re never too far away from the decision-makers in the company.
This particular story is from someone who started as an intern, but after several extensions of the program, they ended up joining full time. This person (and many of their co-workers) were all relocated by the company and put up in some furnished corporate housing so they could get settled in and get to work. Since the internships were three-month stints, they relied on this kind of temporary housing solution to see them through or until they decided to go full time and find a more permanent residence.
(The story linked above is referring to their experience out at the California HQ, but SpaceX still relocates and provides housing assistance for their interns at their different locations. And, of course, we have some great corporate housing options in Brownsville.)
This article does warn that you should be prepared to work some pretty long hours (though they also point out that no one actually forces you to do this). Every department at any of their locations has the potential to be very different about their expectations, though, which can make a temporary assignment here even more appealing if you’re just looking to get a feel for the corporate culture.
As of March 2020, this SpaceX site has more than 500 employees, and the manufacturing plant is literally building rockets 24/7.
It’s a crazy life, but it’s one that many people wouldn’t trade for anything.