SpaceX Will Have an Offshore Spaceport Ready to Get Starship Launches as Soon as Next Year

Last year SpaceX made headlines after posting project openings for operations engineers. The job at hand? To help design and build an offshore rocket launch facility--aka, a floating spaceport. Between the job postings and Elon Musk's tweet the spaceports were intended for launches to Mars, the moon, and hypersonic travel around Earth, the whole thing seemed somewhat outlandish.

SpaceX Will Have an Offshore Spaceport Ready to Get Starship Launches as Soon as Next Year

A year later, though, SpaceX is forging ahead with its own plans. Musk tweeted this week that construction on the initial spaceport has started, and rockets could launch out of it as soon as next year.

The floating spaceport programs have been in motion since nearly a year ago, when a SpaceX-affiliated LLC bought two offshore oil rigs in July of 2020. The rigs were sold by Valaris, the planet's largest offshore drilling firm, which is headquartered in Houston and incorporated in the UK. After filing for Chapter 11 protection in August of 2020, the business completed a financial restructuring and arrived from bankruptcy last April.

A semi-submersible is an offshore drilling platform that can be moved from place to place; whereas most of it floats over the water surface, it'anchors' itself using pontoon-type columns submerged beneath water. Ultra-deepwater drilling occurs at depths of 1,500 meters (~5,000 feet) or even deeper.

What this adds up to? SpaceX purchased a number of the sturdiest floating rigs out there--aka, what you would expect to get a place rockets will start from land on. And not just any rockets--the biggest ever used in spaceflight. Starship's 160-foot spacecraft plus 230-foot booster makes for a 394-foot-tall (taller than the duration of a football field) by 30-foot-wide rocket.

Both rigs are located in the Port of Brownsville at the southern tip of Texas, quite near the border with Mexico--and handily, near SpaceX's Starship development centre in Boca Chica (whose title Musk wants to change to"Starbase." I mean, in the event that you lived there, that name alone would give you some bragging rights, wouldn't it?) .

SpaceX promptly renamed the rigs, from"rigs 8500 and also 8501" to Phobos and Deimos, the titles of Mars's 2 moons. It seems construction on Deimos is shifting along very first, according to Musk's tweet.

At this time it seems entirely possibly that the spaceports will be launch-ready long ahead of the spaceships are; of the rocket's initial five high-altitude flights, three exploded on contact during landing and the fourth exploded a few minutes after landing. The fifth flight, which just took place a month ago, was explosion-free and therefore profitable. For into the three-a-day launches Musk envisions, however, SpaceX will need a much better scorecard than one out of five.

On the other hand, the firm did just hit a substantial landmark in reusability when one of its B1051 boosters finished its tenth flight over the course of just 26 weeks.

And there are all kinds of programs on the market, from sending a Starship into orbit around its own way into Hawaii to launching the"full stack" Super Heavy booster and Starship the moment July.

We can't be sure that SpaceX's plans will perform on the exact deadline specified (which, in the instance of this spaceports, is appropriately vague;"when next year" permits for a strong 11 weeks or so of wiggle room), however the business thus far has not had many problems with a lack of follow-through. That means it's merely a matter of time until we see rockets starting off converted oil rigs and going to the moon, all corners of Earth, and Mars.

Updated Date: 03 June 2021, 16:58

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