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SpaceX Abandons Plan to Convert Offshore Oil Rigs Into Rocket Launchers

An unmanned Falcon 9 rocket launched by SpaceX, on a cargo resupply service mission to the International Space Station, lifts off from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Cape Canaveral, Florida January 10, 2015.

Posted on February 20, 2023

Elon Musk’s SpaceX has ditched plans to use two semi-submersible oil rigs as offshore launching platforms for the company’s next-generation rocket, according to Space News.

SpaceX apparently purchased the rigs in 2020 with plans to convert at Bollinger Mississippi Repair in Pascagoula, where they arrived last March. But space community insiders are reporting that the rigs have started mostly dormant over the past year and they are now due to depart in the next few weeks.

According to the Space News report, SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell this month told reporters that the rigs have been sold.

“We bought them. We sold them. They were not the right platform,” Space News quotes her as saying.

It seems the rigs were originally purchased to launch SpaceX’s new Starship rocket, the company’s largest and most powerful rocket to date, designed to transport crew and cargo on missions to the Moon and Mars. The rocket is reportedly in the final stages of development Musk says it could take its maiden flight in March.

Shotwell said the company needed to first start launching the new rocket before thinking about building offshore launch platforms, according to Space News.

“We really need to fly this vehicle to understand it, to get to know this machine, and then we’ll figure out how we’re going to launch it,” she said.

Of course, SpaceX is not new to seabase platforms. The company has converted some barges into dynamically positioned drone landing ships to catch its reusable rocket at sea. With that in mind, here’s a rocket crash landing on one:


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