New Starlink plant to open in Texas

SpaceX says it is building a facility in Austin, Texas to build systems that will help mass and efficiently manufacture phased array dish antennas, Wi-Fi routers and other equipment for Starlink satellite broadband network customers.

The news was made public thanks to a job opening for an automation and control engineer, which was pointed out by local news channel KXAN.

“To meet global demand, SpaceX is opening new, state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities in Austin, Texas,” the job posting reads. “The automation and control engineer will play a key role as we aim to produce millions of consumer devices that we will start shipping directly to customers (Starlink dishes, Wi-Fi routers, mounting hardware, and so on).”

The plant will presumably not manufacture the dishes and routers themselves locally, but will instead design systems that will improve the manufacturing process. “In particular, experts will design and develop control systems and software for production line equipment – ultimately solving the most complex mechanical, software and electrical challenges that arise in large-scale production, while maintaining a focus on flexibility, reliability, maintainability and simplicity. use,” the statement said.

Starlink is in beta testing with more than 10,000 customers so far, and the company has requested permission from the US Federal Communications Commission to deploy up to 5 million user terminals across the country. SpaceX calls this piece of equipment the “Dishy McFlatface” and it receives transmissions from SpaceX satellites in low Earth orbit. Starlink charges $99 per month plus a one-time fee of $499 for the user terminal, mounting stand, and router. Starlink has recently begun accepting pre-orders for the service, which will become available in the second half of 2021.

The new job posting said that the successful candidate would work in Austin but spend up to 25% of their time at SpaceX headquarters in Los Angeles until the Austin facility was fully built. The new engineer will have an impact on Starlink’s ability to deliver equipment this year. “The specialist will establish, implement and adhere to schedules and budgets to ensure project completion as the company aims to roll out services in more than 25 countries by the end of the year,” the job posting reads.

The job also states: “An engineer will design, develop and lead automation and control projects for consumer electronics manufacturing that are easy to use for people around the world, but technically very complex – this includes the initial factory idea, live commissioning, online and confirmation of technical capabilities in practice with the subsequent transfer of the project to operational teams. He will also lead the design and initial concept development of the equipment, carefully balancing product specifications, process requirements, layout complexity, cost and lead times.”

SpaceX’s new factory will be next to Tesla’s planned car plant. SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk is also the CEO of Tesla.