JAKARTA: Indonesian president Joko Widodo is offering billionaire Elon Musk to use the country’s planned rocket launch site in the remote province of Papua for his SpaceX venture.
The president, popularly known as Jokowi, had a telephone conversation with Mr Musk on Friday (Dec 11) to discuss a possible partnership with the billionaire’s electric vehicle company Tesla.
“President Joko Widodo is also inviting (Mr Musk) to consider Indonesia as a SpaceX launching pad,” said a statement from Indonesia's Coordinating Ministry for Maritime and Investment Affairs.
Indonesia’s National Institute of Aeronautics and Space is currently building the country’s first rocket launch site in Biak Island in the country’s easternmost province of Papua. The site, which will be used to launch small-sized unmanned space rockets, is expected to be completed in 2024.
SpaceX, which was founded by Mr Musk, is currently launching its rockets from four US facilities.
Indonesia, home to large deposits of copper, nickel and tin, is already in talks with Tesla about a possible electric battery partnership.
Mr Musk even praised Indonesia’s nickel deposit in a tweet in July.
Nickel is a key component in the lithium-ion batteries used to power electric vehicles.
Last month, Mr Widodo sent one of his most senior Cabinet members, Maritime and Investment Affairs Minister Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, to the United States to meet Mr Musk and other American investors.
The meeting with Mr Musk was cancelled after the billionaire tested positive for COVID-19. Mr Musk has since recovered from the disease.
According to the ministry's statement, following the telephone conversation with Jokowi on Friday, Mr Musk agreed to send a team to Indonesia in January to look at the investment opportunities.
Indonesia is aiming to become the world's biggest producer of electric vehicle batteries and hopes to transition from exporting chemicals and minerals to battery manufacturers in other countries to producing the battery units.
The country is also providing incentives to foreign car makers looking to produce their electric vehicles in Indonesia.