Indonesia invites SpaceX to build rocket launch base

Sylvie Claire / December 16, 2020

Indonesia has invited Tesla boss Elon Musk to build a launch pad for his SpaceX rockets in the Southeast Asian archipelago, authorities in Jakarta have said. Indonesia has several areas located near the equator, said Jodi Mahardi, spokesperson for the coordinating ministry of maritime affairs and investments.


The cost of launching SpaceX would be lower because its satellites would not need to maneuver to adjust their orbit to the equator, he told AFP.


Indonesian President Joko Widodo officially invited Elon Musk, the world's second wealthiest, to reflect on a space project in Indonesia, during a phone conversation on Friday.


The Indonesian space agency announced plans to build a space site on the island of Biak, off the coast of Papua last year, and has had discussions with foreign partners.


SpaceX launched a prototype of its giant Starship rocket last week from Texas, which crashed shortly after. But Elon Musk praised the progress made on this experimental project.


Elon Musk and Joko Widodo, along with Coordinating Minister of Maritime Affairs and Investments Luhut B. Pandjaitan, also discussed the investment opportunities of electric vehicle maker Tesla in Indonesia, according to a press release.


The American company is interested in Indonesia's vast reserves of nickel, a metal essential for electric batteries in its vehicles.


Tesla CEO Elon Musk responded to Indonesian President Joko Widodo's invitation by planning to send one of his teams in January 2021 to explore any opportunities for this cooperation, the ministry said.


The precise dates of this mission have not been confirmed, said Jodi Mahardi.

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