Categories: InnovationScience

SpaceX Contractors In Texas Remain Unpaid

SpaceX and its contractors have been slow to pay many bills concerned with its ambitious construction projects at its rural southern Texas facilities, with some $2.5 million (£1.6m) in liens filed against its sites seeking overdue payments, according to a Reuters report.

More than two dozen companies have filed at least 72 liens since 2019 in counties around Boca Chica, Texas, where SpaceX has been building launch facilities and other sites since 2014, the report said.

At least 41 of the 72 liens — a means under Texas law for holding property owners accountable for unpaid bills — were filed this year.

SpaceX has a launch pad near Boca Chica where it tests its Starship launch system, as well as structures in the area related to rocket manufacturing.

SpaceX’s Starship prototype. Image credit: SpaceX

‘Big bully’

It has filed plans with the state for further facilities in the area including a shopping centre and a $100m office complex.

Carlos Cascos, an accountant and former Texas secretary of state, called SpaceX “the big bully on the playground” and said the company was getting away with not paying bills “because people want to do business with them”.

He said the liens mean little to SpaceX because they sometimes become effective only when they block a property from being sold, and SpaceX has no plans to leave the area soon.

Hydroz Energy Services, an excavating business, was hired by SpaceX to clear storm drains at a facility near Brownsville, but the $19,214 bill went unpaid for months until about two weeks after Hydroz filed a lien in June of last year, the report said.

“If they were to call me today, I’d tell them to fuck off,” said Brian Rozelle, one of Hydroz’s owners.

Unpaid bills

“We’re not some hundred-million-dollar company. It was hard on us,” Rozelle said.

By contrast, SpaceX itself has been paid billions by US space, defense and intelligence agencies and is one of the US’ most valuable privately held ventures, worth an estimated $180bn.

Martin Marietta Materials, a construction supply giant based in North Carolina, was paid an owed $557,611 about two months after the supplier filed a lien.

CMC Construction Services, a large Texas-based materials supplier, supplied $129,592 of materials for a SpaceX project in Bastrop, near state capital Austin, starting in July 2022, for which it filed a lien in January 2023 and still has not been paid, a company official said.

Osburn Contractors, the contractor to whom CMC sold the supplies, itself filed a lien citing an unpaid SpaceX bill for $67,289 for concrete work in McGregor, McLennan County.

Steel bars

GC Steel & Accessories has remained unpaid for 18 months for steel bars and other materials supplied to SpaceX rocket facilities, the report said.

SpaceX owner Elon Musk has been pursued for millions in other unpaid bills related to X, formerly Twitter, which Musk bought in 2022.

Matthew Broersma

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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