Why Elon Musk's space agency is hiring a farmer

SpaceX is seeking a farmer to play a 'direct role in advancing the course of human history.'

Jae C. Hong/AP/File
In this May 29, 2014 file photo, Elon Musk, CEO and CTO of SpaceX, introduces the SpaceX Dragon V2 spaceship at the SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, Calif. The state of Texas and SpaceX have announced that the California-based company will build the first commercial launch site for orbital launches in the southernmost tip of Texas.

A high school diploma and 10 years of row crop farming experience in the central Texas area could land you a job with SpaceX.

That's right, Elon Musk's cutting-edge spaceflight company, which intends to "pave the way to Mars," is looking to hire a farmer.

SpaceX is seeking applicants near McGregor, Texas, with a "rare mix of drive, passion, scrappiness, intelligence, and curiosity to seek what's beyond the stars." Responsibilities for the "farmer" position include "practical farm activities" such as driving tractors, operating machinery, and spraying fields, as well as understanding the implications of the weather. Those without experience in repair and preventative maintenance of John Deere agricultural equipment need not apply.

So what does a company whose explicit goal is to enable mankind to live on other planets want with a central Texas farmer? Does this mean we can expect a sweet onions growing on Mars someday? 

Perhaps. But it could also be that the purpose of this position is decidedly more worldly. SpaceX officials have remained tight-lipped about the posting, but Agriculture.com pointed to speculation that the position "has as much to do with the company's operating budget as it does with devising ways to grow food in space."

Land in Texas used for farming is subject to lower taxes, and companies can request sales taxes exemptions by purchasing agricultural equipment.

While SpaceX has not outlined its motivations for creating the position, the listing does seek applicants flexible to the company's development demands.

"SpaceX employees work a minimum 50 hour week," according to SpaceX. "This position will be required to work around test schedules as necessary to ensure the successful crop production does not interfere with testing progress."

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