SpaceX could launch rockets from floating platforms as early as next year

Shawn Knight

Posts: 13,274   +132
Staff member
Editor's take: SpaceX could have its first ocean spaceport ready for rocket launches as early as next year. Rather than build the infrastructure from scratch, the aerospace manufacture elected to purchase retired oil rigs and refit them for rocket launches. Presumably, SpaceX is saving a lot of money by going this route.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk recently said on Twitter that the floating spaceport, dubbed Deimos, is currently under construction for launch in 2022.

Last year, a SpaceX subsidiary called Lone Star Mineral Development purchased two retired oil rigs for $3.5 million each from offshore drilling contractor Valaris. SpaceX named the rigs Phobos and Deimos after the two moons of Mars and elected to move the former from the Port of Galveston to Pascagoula, Mississippi, earlier this year. Both rigs are atively undergoing a refit to accommodate rocket launches.

Musk in February said SpaceX's reusable Starship launch vehicles would fly to and land on the platforms before heading to space. SpaceX eventually wants to use Starship to send the first humans to Mars, hence the tie-in with the moon names. Musk has even expressed interest in moving to the Red Planet as one of its first colonists.

SpaceX successfully launched and landed a Starship prototype for the first time last month. Previous attempts were able to get into the air and perform impressive maneuvers, but struggled to stick the landing without exploding.

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mbrowne5061

Posts: 1,868   +1,089
Generally they don't retire rigs like that without a good reason. I hope it was due to something like size or oil-drilling specific hardware, and not metal fatigue in the hull.
 

VitalyT

Posts: 5,689   +5,539
It probably takes an entire oil rig to suck dry for enough rocket fuel anyhow. Might as well use its shell when done :)

 

Vulcanproject

Posts: 1,367   +2,410
Generally they don't retire rigs like that without a good reason. I hope it was due to something like size or oil-drilling specific hardware, and not metal fatigue in the hull.

Some just become old, outdated, uneconomical to maintain. Others ordered and built while oil prices are high and drilling contracts aplenty, now without a reason to exist when the price drops.

So they can be had cheap and aren't all necessarily very old. They are supposed to be disposed of on land safely. In the past you just sunk them in deep water or whatever but now laws and environmental group pressures say you need to be transporting them to breakers and paying for disposal.

As such they cost a pretty penny to make them ecologically safe at the end of their lifespan. SpaceX won't be short on choice.
 

Plutoisaplanet

Posts: 478   +691
I've heard that lots of people go deep-sea fishing around oil rigs as they attract a lot of ocean life. Hopefully no one gets themselves blown up lol!
 

wiyosaya

Posts: 6,101   +4,341
Some just become old, outdated, uneconomical to maintain. Others ordered and built while oil prices are high and drilling contracts aplenty, now without a reason to exist when the price drops.

So they can be had cheap and aren't all necessarily very old. They are supposed to be disposed of on land safely. In the past you just sunk them in deep water or whatever but now laws and environmental group pressures say you need to be transporting them to breakers and paying for disposal.

As such they cost a pretty penny to make them ecologically safe at the end of their lifespan. SpaceX won't be short on choice.
So basically it sounds like Musky can get them for almost nothing. I certainly hope the environmental regs will apply since it sounds like they will likely have all kinds of hazardous materials in them when Musky takes possession of them.
Not sure why ANYONE would want to live on Mars. You'd have to be completely whack to be struck there in a cage!
Musky is just returning home. ;)
 

captaincranky

Posts: 16,962   +5,732
It was joked about when the original Saturn V rockets were launched, as to whether they would go up, or Florida would go down.

I'm thinking that an old oil platform, is a lot less stable than Florida
 

sreams

Posts: 174   +288
It was joked about when the original Saturn V rockets were launched, as to whether they would go up, or Florida would go down.

I'm thinking that an old oil platform, is a lot less stable than Florida

Pretty sure they are designing the thing so that the force of thrust is directed to the water, not the rig.
 

captaincranky

Posts: 16,962   +5,732
It probably takes an entire oil rig to suck dry for enough rocket fuel anyhow. Might as well use its shell when done :)
To the best of my knowledge, off shore oil rigs only pump crude oil. Then, it goes to on shore refineries. (Or accidentally into the Gulf of Mexico). RP-1 is a highly refined kerosene, so no, you just can't tank up with the crap you're sucking out of the ocean anyway
 

captaincranky

Posts: 16,962   +5,732
I've heard that lots of people go deep-sea fishing around oil rigs as they attract a lot of ocean life. Hopefully no one gets themselves blown up lol!
You probably won't have to actively fish for them after a launch. Thy'll simply float to the top, already fried..
 

sreams

Posts: 174   +288
Did you really feel obligated to comment and correct me on what I freely admitted was a joke in the first place?
Didn't see you say anything about it being a joke. Obviously, Florida is immovable, but someone might make a comment about the rigs not being able to handle the thrust as part of a joke, but with a hint of ill-placed seriousness. No way to tell where you were coming from. There are plenty of people who might conclude that the thrust is directed at the rig, so there's nothing wrong with a little clarity. Your joke is safe and is still a joke regardless of my comment.