SpaceX is repurposing oil rigs to build a Starship spaceport that could be in ‘limited operation’ this year

SpaceX is repurposing oil rigs to build a Starship spaceport that could be in ‘limited operation’ this year

Featured Image Created by @ErcXspace via Twitter.

SpaceX plans to repurpose a pair of oil rigs to convert into a floating Starship spaceport at sea. The aerospace company purchased two oil rigs named them ‘Phobos’ and ‘Deimos’ like planet Mars’ set of moons. They are currently located in South Texas at the Port of Brownsville, which is close to SpaceX’s Boca Chica Beach 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 away from cities will be the best option to conduct frequent trips. Besides launching space adventurers to the Red Planet, SpaceX plans to use Starship for Earth-to-Earth travel; Imagine launching aboard a spacecraft and arriving anywhere on the planet in under one hour!

That incredible plan will require having spaceports at sea across continents, the first Super Heavy-class spaceport will be built in the Gulf of Mexico near the Boca Chica Beach launch pad. The founder of SpaceX Elon Musk says Starship/Super Heavy ‘will mostly launch from ocean spaceports long-term.’ “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 wrote via Twitter on February 23. He also shared that one of the spaceports “may be in limited operation by end of year.” A Twitter user asked Musk how Starship will be transported to the floating platforms, “they will fly there from our launch site. Stationed around the world,” Musk replied.


The first prototype of the Super Heavy rocket is already under assembly, as teams prepare to launch the next Starship prototype, known as ‘SN10’, on a high-altitude flight test that could take place soon. The launch vehicle will utilize around 28 powerful Raptor engines fueled by cryogenic methane and liquid oxygen. Another Twitter user asked Musk this week if the rigs will be equipped with machinery to produce propellant via Sabatier reactors to which he responded –“Short-term, CH4 [methane] delivered & O2 [oxygen] produced. Propellant is ~78% O2. Long-term, Sabatier reaction to convert CO2 [carbon dioxide] + H2O [water] -> CH4 + O2 using wind & solar power,” Musk explained. You can watch a SpaceX animation of the Earth-to-Earth Starship transporting passengers from spaceports at sea.

Earth-to-Earth Starship


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Image Created by @ErcXspace 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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