Report states SpaceX plans to drill natural-gas at the South Texas Starship Launch Facility

Report states SpaceX plans to drill natural-gas at the South Texas Starship Launch Facility

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SpaceX is working on the development of its next-generation Starship launch vehicle at the South Texas Launch Facility, situated at Boca Chica Beach along the Gulf of Mexico. Starship is powered by Raptor engines which are fueled by cryogenic liquid methane (CH4) and liquid oxygen (LOX). Current Starship prototypes feature three sea-level Raptor engines, the final version of Starship will feature six engines, three more optimized for the vacuum of space. The Starship spacecraft will use a gigantic Super Heavy rocket to propel it to orbit to conserve fuel, the booster will feature around 28 Raptor engines. SpaceX says the Super Heavy Starship launch vehicle will be the world’s most powerful rocket, capable of producing twice the thrust of NASA's Saturn V rocket that propelled the Apollo missions to the moon.

It appears SpaceX has plans to produce its own Starship Raptor engine fuel, according to Bloomberg reporter, Sergio Chapa, who found out SpaceX plans to drill natural-gas at the South Texas Launch Site. SpaceX’s subsidiary 'Lone Star Mineral Development' seeks approval for drilling. The company is facing legal issues from an energy company, Dallas Petroleum Group, who claims ownership of inactive wells on the same land. On January 22 the Railroad Commission of Texas, revealed SpaceX’s plans during a hearing in which an attorney who represents Lone Star Mineral Development, Tim George, said that SpaceX plans to drill for natural gas to find methane and use it “in connection with their rocket facility operations,” the Bloomberg report states. This suggests SpaceX could have plans to operate its own methane production plant to fuel Starship launch vehicles. However, this is not yet confirmed by SpaceX officials. For more details read the full report in the link below. 



On Earth SpaceX can easily find resources to fuel Starship, what makes the methane-fueled Raptor special is that SpaceX engineers designed it with Mars in mind. The Raptor could enable astronauts to set up refueling stations on the Red Planet. Starship fuel could be made by capturing carbon dioxide (CO2) from the Martian atmosphere and digging water ice to synthesize methane through the Sabatier process/electrolysis. In 2018 SpaceX founder Elon Musk shared SpaceX is working on the development of a high efficiency carbon capture system to capture CO2 to utilize in fuel production. Most recently, Musk shared–“Am donating $100M [million] towards a prize for best carbon capture technology,” he announced via Twitter on January 21. Musk is also CEO of Tesla, the electric vehicle/solar energy company, so, it is not clear whether the contest is related to SpaceX or Tesla. “Details next week,” he said. Meanwhile, SpaceX prepares to launch a Starship prototype on a high-altitude test flight next week, read the TESMANIAN article below for more details. 



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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