Elon Musk will soon take off from the oil rig with SpaceX
SpaceX plans to launch its rockets from two decommissioned oil platforms in the future. The 120-meter-high Starship specimens are apparently too much noise on land. With the new method, even intercontinental flights are conceivable, muses Elon Musk.
Dhe space company SpaceX from Elon Musk is growing so fast that in future rockets will also take off from converted oil platforms in the sea. Musk has now confirmed the speculation that has been circulating for months about the launch of ex-oil rigs via a short message. A first mission is planned for 2022. “Deimos marine spaceport is under construction and should be launched next year,” tweeted Musk.
SpaceX has been using two unmanned, floating sea platforms as landing pads for the reusable first stages of its Falcon 9 rockets for a good five years. The recyclable steps land with great precision on four fold-out landing legs on the platforms.
A third platform is currently being made operational. The landing sites usually swim several hundred kilometers from the launch sites in Cape Canaveral in Florida or Vandenburg on the US west coast in California and are then towed to ports near the SpaceX locations.
In order to expand its launch capacities, Musk is now taking up an old space travel idea: rocket launches from the sea. After smaller projects in the 1960s and 1970s, Sea Launch was the largest project to date from 1999 onwards, with the launch of a special ship in the Pacific. Behind it was an international consortium with Boeing, Russia, Ukraine and Norway. Sea Launch went bankrupt in 2009.
A restart in Russian hands is planned for 2024. China has also implemented the idea of rocket launches from ships, and in Germany the German Offshore Spaceport Alliance wants to create a launch facility in the North Sea from ships, at least for small load rockets from Europe.
SpaceX’s marine launch sites are larger than any previous project. SpaceX bought two drilling platforms (Ensco 8500, 8501) for allegedly $ 3.5 million each from bankruptcy in mid-2020 through an intermediate company. They are now being converted into launch platforms under the names Deimos and Phobos, the names of the sons of the Greek god of war Ares and the two moons of Mars, respectively.
Care for fish and marine animals
From the sea, the new, 120-meter-high giant rockets with the Starship upper stage and the super heavy first stage could take off and land there again. So far, the Starship prototypes have all been detonated on the Texan coast in the small town of Boca Chica. SpaceX is currently expanding its Starbase spaceport there at an unbelievable rate and building huge launch facilities. Huge cranes from the German-Swiss company Liebherr are used here.
In addition to the launch sites on land, the converted drilling rigs could also serve as floating launch platforms off the Texan coast. In addition to the safety aspect, the noise pollution for the population would also not be so great. The first stage of the mega-missile is said to have 32 engines.
It is noteworthy that in the initial reactions on Twitter to the launch plans for marine platforms confirmed by Musk, questions about environmental compatibility also arise. “The fish and other creatures underneath must love it …”, it says with an ironic undertone in a short message.
Elon Musk has repeatedly promised floating platforms not only for landing but also for rocket launches. The Starship rocket could be used not only for flights to the moon or Mars, but also for intercontinental flights on Earth, with space stations in front of large cities.
Elon Musk would like to use missiles like airplanes today: refueling, loading passengers or cargo, taking off, flying, landing, checking and refueling. When deployed on Earth, Spaceship is said to be deployed up to three times a day – like an airplane on short distances. SpaceX has already managed to reuse the first stage of a Falcon 9 rocket ten times.
With the future mega rocket, not only the first stage but also the upper stage should be recyclable for the first time. The speed at which SpaceX is currently launching its extremely reliable Falcon 9 rocket is clear from a few figures. This year alone there were 16 starts in the first five months. One focus was the further expansion of the Starlink Internet satellite network.
SpaceX has already launched over 1,700 Starlink satellites into space. In the final stage, almost 12,000 satellites are initially planned.
Because other companies such as Elon Musk competitor and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos are planning similar mega-constellations in space, there is also clear criticism of the project.
Astronomers fear a limited view into the depths of space and experts warn of space debris and the growing risk of collision in space. Critics fear that one day, roughly as many satellites could be seen from Earth as bright stars could be seen from Earth.
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