Indonesia has put itself forward as a possible rocket launch site for American space exploration entrepreneur Elon Musk’s SpaceX.
According to Indonesia’s Coordinating Ministry for Maritime and Investment Affairs, President Joko Widodo has been in discussions with Musk and the Tesla billionaire is sending a team to Indonesia in January to look at potential investments including a possible electric battery partnership.
Indonesia is home to large deposits of copper, nickel and tin, and aims to become the world’s biggest producer of electric vehicle batteries.
“Nickel is the biggest challenge for high-volume, long-range batteries! Australia and Canada are doing pretty well. US nickel production is objectively very lame. Indonesia is great!” Musk tweeted earlier this year.
Apart from an investment partnership with Tesla, Widodo also asked Musk to look into the possibility of setting up a launch port for SpaceX in Indonesia.
Indonesia’s National Institute of Aeronautics and Space has plans to construct its first spaceport in Biak, on the island of Papua. Such a project needs international investors and SpaceX is one of the possible partners it has approached.
The automobile manufacturing arm of Tesla is already in Asia with its Shanghai Gigafactory in China which now makes around 250,000 cars a year and plans to soon start exporting cars to Europe.
Tesla’s space exploration arm launched the latest prototype of its Starship rocket from Texas last week.
The 50m-tall vehicle took off successfully and performed planned manoeuvres but crashed on touchdown. However, Musk and his team were delighted with how much the test flight achieved.