Featured Image: SpaceX Deimos oil rig at the Port of Brownsville, Texas, in 2021. Source: SPadre @SpacePadreIsle via Twitter.
SpaceX President and Chief Operating Officer Gwynne Shotwell participated at the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration Commercial Space Transportation Conference on February 8. Ms. Shotwell told reporters that the company sold the pair of oil rigs that were going to be repurposed into Starship offshore landing platforms. “We bought them. We sold them. They were not the right platform,” she said, without providing specific details about the transaction. “[...] We really need to fly this vehicle to understand it, to get to know this machine, and then we’ll figure out how we’re going to launch it,” she added.
Gwynne Shotwell told reporters last week that SpaceX sold the rigs; "they were not the right platform." Still interested in sea-based launch platforms, but the company wants to start flying Starship first and understand it before proceeding. https://t.co/LApLVDj2aS— Jeff Foust (@jeff_foust) February 14, 2023
SpaceX founder Elon Musk named the oil rigs ‘Deimos’ and ‘Phobos’ after Mars’ pair of moons. In June 2020, Musk said that “SpaceX is building floating, superheavy-class spaceports for Mars, moon & hypersonic travel around Earth.” He mentioned that launching multiple Starship flights per day would be too noisy, so ocean platforms would be a good option to not disturb cities long-term. An ocean-going launch platform would also enable the company to perform spaceflights around the world by navigating anywhere. “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 previously said.
At the recent conference, Ms. Shotwell told reporters that the company still has plans to build “many pads” to support frequent Starship missions. “I think we’ll have a lot of sea-based platforms as well. We have to see how this [Star]ship goes,” she said in reference to starting to perform orbital Starship flight tests. Engineers are currently preparing to launch the first fully-stacked Starship to orbit from Boca Chica Beach in South Texas, the flight could happen as soon as March. The debut test flight will provide SpaceX engineers with valuable data to speed up the spacecraft’s development and create concepts of operations. The company currently has two launch sites that will support Starship missions: the Starbase launch facility in Texas, and it is in the process of building a second Starship launch tower at the NASA Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
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Featured Image: SpaceX Deimos oil rig at the Port of Brownsville in 2021. Source: 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.