Featured Images Source: Courtesy of Spadre @SpacePadreIsle via Twitter
SpaceX is working to convert a pair of oil rigs into sea-going Starship spaceports. The aerospace company purchased two oil rigs and named them ‘Phobos’ and ‘Deimos,’ like Mars’ set of moons. On February 28, one of the vessels was seen navigating through Isla Blanca at South Padre Island, Texas, located less than an hour away from the company’s Starbase facility. Isla Blanca Park is where space enthusiasts gather to watch Starship test flights, it is the closest launch viewing spot.
Calm seas ahead, Deimos.— SPadre (@SpacePadreIsle) February 28, 2022
To Mars! 🚀 pic.twitter.com/isVl7UhbsV
The Deimos Spaceport appears to be heading closer to the Starship launch site. According to Gav Cornwell, who has seen the Port's manifest, Deimos is navigating from the Port of Brownsville to the Port of Pascagoula, Mississippi, for “retrofit.” Phobos is currently undergoing work in that location, pictured below. Soon, we will might see both vessels undergoing modifications at the same port.
SpaceX rig Deimos is confirmed to shortly be relocating from the Port of Brownsville to the Port of Pascagoula for 'retrofit', per port manifest. @NASASpaceflight— Gav Cornwell 🚢🚀 (@SpaceOffshore) February 24, 2022
Expected arrival on March 6th. Photo from @thejackbeyer pic.twitter.com/QlYtmzpIap
SpaceX plans to build a Super Heavy-class launch tower on top of each oil rig. The tower will be similar to the one at the Boca Chica launch pad that is capable of stacking the Starship atop the 230-foot-tall booster. Last month, SpaceX demonstrated how the launch tower’s robotic arms stack the 50-meter-tall Starship atop the Super Heavy rocket, video below. The tower will also be capable of recovering the rocket-ship, "We’re going to try to catch the Super Heavy Booster with the launch tower arm, using the grid fins to take the load,” SpaceX founder Chief Engineer Elon Musk said.
Launch and catch tower at Starbase destacking Starship pic.twitter.com/LQPKrzbNAt— SpaceX (@SpaceX) February 19, 2022
Because the launch system will be very noisy, launching from a spaceport at sea, far away from cities, will be the best option to conduct frequent trips. Besides launching astronauts to the Moon and Mars, SpaceX plans to use Starship for hypersonic Earth-to-Earth travel. The incredible endeavor will require having sea-going spaceports that can move around the world to serve multiple point-to-point destinations. Imagine traveling aboard a Starship and arriving anywhere on the planet in under an hour! According to Musk, the first Super Heavy-class spaceport will operate in the Gulf of Mexico near the Boca Chica Beach launch pad. Musk said in May 2021 that the ocean spaceport Deimos was under construction for a test launch in 2022.
Starship/Super Heavy “will mostly launch from ocean spaceports long-term,” he said. “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,” Musk said last year. Refurbishing oil rigs will come with an expensive price tag, “I hope we don’t go bankrupt building them!” When questioned by a Twitter user about how will Starship be transported to the floating platforms, he said – “they will fly there from our launch site. Stationed around the world.”
SpaceX sea-going Deimos Spaceport navigating through Isla Blanca at South Padre Island, Texas.
All Images Source: Courtesy of Spadre @SpacePadreIsle via Twitter
About the Author
Evelyn Janeidy 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.