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SpaceX is Building Floating Launchpads

15 February 21

Elon Musk’s SpaceX just bought two deepwater oil rigs and are going to turn them into floating launchpads. 

The rigs are based in Boca Chica, Texas and they are said to support the huge Starship rocket that the company is developing. SpaceX is developing this next-generation rocket to meet Musk’s goal of launching cargo and having as many as 100 people at a time on missions to the moon and Mars.

The two rigs are nearly identical and their previous names were ENSCO 8500 and ENSCO 8501. Now they have been renamed to Deimos and Phobos, possibly in homage to the Martian moons. 

How did this whole purchasing of the oil rigs go public?

Well, reporters for NASASpaceflight, a space-focused website, were the first to identify it. 

According to public records, the oil rigs were sold by Valaris, the world’s largest owner of offshore oil rigs. Interestingly, shortly after the sale, in August, the company filed for bankruptcy. The rigs were sold for $3.5 million each, however, they were not purchased in Elon Musks’ name. In fact, public records show that they were purchased in July of 2020 by limited liability corporation Lone Star Mineral Development, which happens to be registered in the name of SpaceX CFO Bret Johnsen. Lone Star Mineral Development was incorporated in June 2020 – just one month before the purchase.

Another interesting thing is that shortly before Lone Star Mineral Development was incorporated, Elon Musk explained in a tweet that SpaceX plans to build “floating, superheavy-class spaceports for Mars, moon & hypersonic travel around Earth.”

And that’s all that is known about the project for now. Hopefully, we will learn more about it soon!

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