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SpaceX halts plans to convert oil rigs into floating offshore launch pads
"Starship fuels up before lift off on its offshore launch platform Deimos!" Render created by @Kendall_Dirks via Twitter
SpaceX halts plans to convert oil rigs into floating offshore launch pads
by Charles Briggs
Space Coast FL (SPX) Feb 16, 2023

After speaking at the Federal Aviation Administration Commercial Space Transportation Conference on February 8, President and COO of SpaceX, Gwynne Shotwell told reporters that SpaceX has abandoned their plans for floating Starship launch platforms.

"We bought them. We sold them. They were not the right platform," she said.

SpaceX acquired two former deepwater oil drilling rigs in 2020 for $7 million to be converted into floating launch platforms that would be used for its Starship vehicles. The two rigs were named after the two moons of Mars, Phobos and Deimos.

Job postings for offshore operations engineers were posted by the company on their website in 2020. Shortly after that, SpaceX's CEO, Elon Musk, tweeted:

"SpaceX is building floating, superheavy-class spaceports for Mars, moon and hypersonic travel around Earth,"

Phobos has been at the port of Pascagoula, Mississippi since January 2021 and was later joined by Deimos in March 2022. However, the company has only done very little refurbishing on either vessel.

According to the Port of Pascagoula's shipping manifest, Deimos will depart on February 20, while Phobos will depart on March 12, destination unknown.

Shotwell didn't disclose when or to whom SpaceX sold the twin rigs. The company is still confident that offshore launch pads will remain a part of its long-term plans.

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