SpaceX Is Repurposing Oil Rigs To Build A Starship Spaceport That Will Be In Operation Next Year

SpaceX Is Repurposing Oil Rigs To Build A Starship Spaceport That Will Be In Operation Next Year

Featured Image Source: Render created by @Kendall_Dirks via Twitter

SpaceX is repurposing oil rigs to build a Starship spaceport that will be in operation in 2022. The aerospace company purchased two oil rigs, named them ‘Phobos’ and ‘Deimos,’ like the moons of Mars. The oil rigs are currently located in South Texas at the Port of Brownsville, which is close to SpaceX’s Starbase facility where Starship is under development. The spacecraft will require a gigantic Super Heavy rocket booster to propel it to orbit, because the launch system will be very noisy, launching from a spaceport at sea far from cities will be the best option to conduct frequent trips. “Ocean spaceport Deimos is under construction for launch next year,” SpaceX founder Elon Musk announced today, May 30.

Besides landing astronauts on the Moon and transporting hundreds to colonize Mars, Musk also envisions a future where Starship can function for Earth-to-Earth transportation, like airplanes. “Most Starship spaceports will probably need to be ~20 miles/30 kilometers offshore for acceptable noise levels, especially for frequent daily flights, as would occur for point-to-point flights on Earth,” he said. Refurbishing oil rigs will come with an expensive price tag - “I hope we don’t go bankrupt building them!” Musk said via Twitter in February. 

A South Texas pilot recently flew over the Port of Brownsville, Texas, and captured a photograph of SpaceX’s Deimos spaceport that will support orbital-class Super Heavy launches, pictured above. The oil rig is currently undergoing refurbishment, it features a helicopter pad with its name in yellow letters. The spaceport is expected to feature a giant launch tower that will be capable of supporting the booster as it returns from space, as depicted in the render shown below. Engineers aim to develop a fully reusable Starship/Super Heavy launch vehicle capable of being reused at least three times a day. Super Heavy must be capable of being rapidly reusable, for that purpose SpaceX will design a launch tower that could quickly ‘catch’ the booster after it launches the Starship spacecraft to orbit. “We’re going to try to catch the Super Heavy Booster with the launch tower arm, using the grid fins to take the load,” Musk said. The company’s Falcon 9 rocket also features grid fins, which are used to control the vehicle as it descends. Engineers will utilize the same feature for Super Heavy but modify it to support the vehicle’s landing.

SpaceX aims to conduct the first orbital flight test this Summer, NET (no earlier than) July 1st. Teams are rapidly building prototypes of the Super Heavy booster. The company already launched five stainless-steel Starships on high-altitude flight tests and is getting ready to launch the sixth; They have not tested a booster prototype yet because it will require a launch tower. To support a debut orbital test flight SpaceX is building an orbital-class launch tower on land, along the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Boca Chica Beach. Author's note: Thanks for supporting TESMANIAN! Twitter: Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo

Featured Image Source: Render created by @Kendall_Dirks via Twitter

About the Author

Evelyn Arevalo

Evelyn Arevalo

Evelyn J. Arevalo joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover news as a Space Journalist and SpaceX Starbase Texas Correspondent. Evelyn is specialized in rocketry and space exploration. The main topics she covers are SpaceX and NASA.

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