SpaceX is one company that is not afraid to try new things, an approach that has worked well for it. However, sometimes things don’t go as planned and must be abandoned. The space exploration company has dropped its plans to convert oil rigs into launch platforms.
While the idea seemed brilliant, SpaceX has determined it does not fit into its short-term plans. However, the plan remains part of its long-term plans for the next-gen Starship spacecraft.
SpaceX bought two oil rigs in 2020, Phobos and Deimos (sounds familiar to fans of the Red Planet; they are the names of the two moons orbiting Mars). The idea was to convert them into launch platforms for Starship.
Phobos arrived at the port of Pascagoula, Mississippi, in January 2021 and was joined by Deimos last March. However, no noticeable work has been done to convert them into launch platforms. As shown by publicly available shipping manifests, the two oil rigs are set to depart the port soon. Deimos will leave on February 20th, while Phobos will follow suit on March 12th. The documents do not list their destinations.
However, the fate of the pair of rigs was revealed by company president Gwynne Shotwell who said last week they had been sold because they were not suited to serving as launch platforms, as Jeff Foust from Space News reports.
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 is planning for a high launch cadence of the Starship to support CEO Elon Musk’s dream of colonizing Mars. The company is constructing a launch pad at Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A, in addition to the one at Starbase in Texas.
SpaceX recently fired up 31 out of the 33 Raptor engines powering the Starship’s booster as it continues to test prototypes. Musk has revealed the rocket could launch to orbit for the first time in March, an update to an earlier estimate of late February.