Skip to main content

SpaceX boss Elon Musk confirms work on first ocean spaceport

SpaceX is planning to launch and land its next-generation Starship rocket on an ocean-based spaceport as early as next year.

Starship could one day carry up to 100 crew members to the moon, Mars, and beyond. The powerful launch vehicle may also be used for city-to-city travel, bringing global cities closer together than ever before.

The private spaceflight company’s initial aim is to build two floating spaceports called Deimos and Phobos, named after Mars’ moons.

Responding to a fan’s tweet that included an image of how the spaceport might look, SpaceX chief Elon Musk confirmed that construction is already underway on Deimos.

Ocean spaceport Deimos is under construction for launch next year https://t.co/WJQka399c7

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 30, 2021

The spaceports are being built on oil rig apparatus purchased in 2020 for a total of $7 million from Valaris, the world’s largest owner of offshore rigs.

Musk’s desire to use SpaceX hardware — including rockets, spacecraft, and floating platforms — for city-to-city travel first came to light during an appearance at the International Astronautical Congress in Australia in 2017. The SpaceX CEO said at the time the system would allow passengers to “fly to most places on Earth in under 30 minutes and anywhere in under 60,” adding that a seat would cost the same as an economy fare on a conventional flight.

The company also released an animation showing off the plan.

Starship | Earth to Earth

To make SpaceX Mars missions and city-to-city travel a reality, the company has been performing high-altitude test flights of its Starship vehicle in the hope of sending it on its first orbital flight in the coming months.

But testing has been hard going. Three of the first five high-altitude flights ended in flames when Starship landed too heavily at the end of its short trip, while the fourth exploded several minutes after making what at first appeared to be a decent landing. However, its fifth and most recent flight, which took place in early May, landed safely and stayed intact, giving the team a huge boost as it works to perfect Starship’s flight system.

For its upcoming orbital flight, Starship will launch atop SpaceX’s in-development Super Heavy rocket. It’s this two-stage, reusable system that SpaceX says will one day transport humans to Mars, and also make its global transportation system possible.

Job listings posted by SpaceX last year suggest the team tasked with building the spaceports is based in Brownsville, Texas, near SpaceX’s Starship test site in Boca Chica. There is still much work and testing to be done before Starship begins carrying crews and passengers, but Musk’s revelation that work is underway on the construction of its first-ever ocean spaceport shows that the company is edging toward its goal.

Editors' Recommendations

Trevor Mogg
Contributing Editor
Not so many moons ago, Trevor moved from one tea-loving island nation that drives on the left (Britain) to another (Japan)…
SpaceX spacecraft looks amazing in this new museum display
SpaceX's Cargo Dragon approaching the space station.

A SpaceX Dragon capsule that’s been to orbit and back twice has gone on display at the recently renovated Henry Crown Space Center at the Griffin Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago.

In a post on social media unveiling the new exhibit, the museum noted that the reusable Cargo Dragon capsule made history in 2012 as the first commercial spacecraft to travel to the International Space Station (ISS). This particular Dragon spacecraft is the CRS-12 and took part in two ISS cargo missions, in 2017 and 2019.

Read more
Watch this SpaceX Raptor engine blow up during testing
A SpaceX Raptor rocket engines explodes during testing.

An explosion occurred on Thursday at SpaceX’s test facility in McGregor, Texas, sending flames and a huge plume of smoke into the sky.

Reports from NASASpaceflight, which runs a live stream of the site, suggested it occurred during the ground-based testing of a Raptor rocket engine of the kind used by the company’s next-generation Starship rocket.

Read more
SpaceX’s Starlink internet service reaches milestone
A Starlink dish.

SpaceX’s Starlink service now has more than 3 million customers globally, the company announced this week.

“Starlink is connecting more than 3M people with high-speed internet across nearly 100 countries, territories, and many other markets,” SpaceX said in a social media post on Tuesday that also included a short video showing Starlink satellite dishes set up and providing an internet connection in various places around the world.

Read more