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SpaceX To Open Seattle-Area Office With Up To 1,000 Workers

SpaceX via Twitter
Dragon, SpaceX's version of an astronaut taxi to the International Space Station. Boeing has a rival spacecraft. A Dragon will be on display at the Museum of Flight January 17-19.

Billionaire Elon Musk says he’s setting up an engineering center in Seattle that could have 1,000 workers within three or four years.

Musk is CEO of Space Exploration Technologies. He made his name as co-founder of PayPal and designer of the Tesla electric car. He made the announcement in a conference call with journalists at Bloomberg.

"It’s actually a satellite office creating satellites," he said.

Musk said the office would focus on developing satellites but could also be a base for rocket-design talent uninterested in moving to SpaceX’s base in the Los Angeles area.

Satellites are a new business for SpaceX. The company’s rivalry with Seattle-based aerospace players Boeing and Blue Origin is old news.

Boeing and SpaceX spar for business from NASA, such the contract to taxi astronauts to the international space station. Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin and SpaceX compete for reusable rockets and for launchpad access from NASA.

The announcement that SpaceX will join the local competition for engineering talent was good news to the Washington governor’s Office of Aerospace.

Alex Pietsch heads the office and called the news “very exciting."

"This is one of the most innovative companies on the planet,” he said.

Pietsch said the governor’s office has known for several weeks that SpaceX was planning to set up in the Seattle area. He said the company is expected to land in Redmond, on Microsoft’s doorstep.

Musk told Bloomberg he wants to attract aerospace talent from Boeing, as well as software engineers.

He also said the company says it wants to do for satellites what it did for rockets -- reduce the risk by making them lighter and more state of the art.

Risks are high in the space business. SpaceX crashed a rocket just the other week. Pietsch said he’s not concerned about whether SpaceX will be a success.

“It certainly is risky," he said, "but I think we’ve seen Elon Musk prove time and time again that he can revolutionize products.”