En route to Mars, Elon Musk will build satellites in Seattle

Elon Musk and former Google executive Greg Wyler have a plan to build hundreds of small satellites, and as of today it looks like they will be built in Seattle.

The Seattle SpaceX engineering office will employ several hundred to a thousand people, according to Bloomberg. Musk and Wyler first announced their preliminary plans in November to build 700 satellites weighing less than 250 pounds, each costing less than $1 million to produce.

“We’re going to try and do for satellites what we’ve done for rockets,” Musk said at a press conference at SpaceX headquarters, Bloomberg reported.

At 250 pounds, the satellites would fall in size between traditional communications satellites weighing several tons and the tiny shoebox-sized alternatives favored by modern startups. A fleet of 700 satellites has never been done.

Wyler, who previously ran Google’s satellite division, is now the founder of WorldVu Satellites. He owns a portion of the radio spectrum, which the satellites could use to provide internet to previously inaccessible parts of the world.

The satellites would generate revenue that would go toward Musk’s dream to colonize Mars, plus teach his team the details of space communication. He said during a Reddit AMA last week that he plans to reveal further details about the SpaceX craft that would carry the first humans to the planet in the mid-2020s by the end of this year.

Curiosity reaches its major destination: Mount Sharp

NASA Mars Curiosity rover

The Curiosity rover has been rolling across Mars’ surface for two years now, stopping regularly to analyze samples of Martian rocks and conduct other experiments. But the whole time it has been traveling toward its primary goal: Mount Sharp, a huge mountain that could explain what happened in the earliest days of the planet’s atmosphere. Curiosity has now arrived at the mountain and will begin inspecting its lower slopes.