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SpaceX Redmond Opens Up

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SpaceX Redmond is open and, while a small office opening might not seem like news, here are a few good reasons the Puget Sound region should be paying attention.

Elon Musk's space plans are big – huge, really. And he has the means to make them a reality. NASA has said it plans to spend $5 billion underwriting development of commercial spacecraft. Boeing and SpaceX stand to draw much of those funds.

SpaceX is planning a hiring spree in Redmond, and Musk has made it clear Boeing and Microsoft employees are top of mind when it comes to recruiting. Right now, the company has dozens of open positions, including more than 50 in Seattle. There are jobs for electro-mechanical engineers, avionics engineers, antenna engineers, and a variety of other highly specialized positions. Many require masters degrees or PhDs in engineering.

Many are related to the company's announced plans to build a swarm of low-orbit satellites to carry high-volume international internet service, instead of via fiber-optic cables.

Yes, SpaceX will recruit some people away from Boeing and Microsoft. But the company's growth here is likely to draw incredibly specialized, well-trained people to the Seattle area. That will bolster the region's influence on future space technology.

"Clearly SpaceX's original draw here was to find talent at the companies that are already here," said Alex Pietsch, director of Washington state's Office of Aerospace.

In time, though, Pietsch said, the region is likely to see more and more people move here. The diversity of companies makes it easier for some with a highly specialized background to justify moving to Seattle. If things don't work out with SpaceX, there's likely to be similar jobs at Boeing and other Seattle-area space companies.

Speaking of other Seattle-area space companies, Elon Musk isn't the only tech billionaire with a thing for space travel. Seattle has a few of its own.

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos' company, Blue Origin, is working on a rocket that aims to eventually take people into space. Bezos is one of the largest private landowners in Texas, where his company's rockets are tested. Musk also owns huge chunks of land in Texas for the same purpose.

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen also has a passion for space travel. His company, Stratolaunch, is building a giant plane that aims to make it much easier to get to space. Basically, the giant plane flies into the stratosphere and launches a rocket from there.

Pietsch said all this innovation is helping to build out the region's reputation as a place of aerospace innovation. Now that the region has solidified the future of commercial airplane production here with the 777X facility, it's time to focus on space, he said.

"Denver, the Bay Area and Seattle are the new up-and-comers in this industry," he said.

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