Felix Schlang of What About It? has identified that are six out of seven Mechazilla segments in Florida. The Mechazilla segments will be shipped by barge from Florida to Texas Boca Chica. A second Mechazilla tower will be built at Boca Chica.
The first Mechazilla tower was built at Starbase but there is no room at this time.
In July 2020, Lone Star Mineral Development LLC, a subsidiary of SpaceX, bought two semi-submersible drilling rigs from Valaris plc for US$3.5 million each. They were renamed Deimos and Phobos after the two moons of Mars. In February 2022, Musk indicated that one of the two platforms would have a launch tower installed by the end of the year. The projected timelines for making the oil platforms operational launch and landing facilities have been missed.
The metal launch tower segments are not that expensive. The launch towers have the robotic arms and power to operate them.
The NASA SLS launch tower cost about $1 billion. It seems likely that the SpaceX Mechazilla launch towers and the oil rig launch towers cost less than $100 million each.
SpaceX will have six operational launch facilities soon and perhaps seven launch towers when the oil rigs are completed. As of 2023, SpaceX operates four launch facilities: Cape Canaveral Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40), Vandenberg Space Force Base Space Launch Complex 4E (SLC-4E), Kennedy Space Center Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A), and Brownsville South Texas Launch Site. There will be two launch towers at Boca Chica.
SpaceX currently operates a West Coast launch site located at Vandenberg Space Force Base Space Launch Complex 4 in order to deliver satellites to polar or Sun-synchronous orbits with Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy launches.
SpaceX broke ground at Vandenberg in July 2011. A 2011 estimate showed that the project was expected to cost between $20 to $30 million for the first 24 months of construction and operation; thereafter, operational costs were expected to be $5–10 million per year.
SpaceX should eventually have similar numbers of launch towers as the number of Super Heavy Starships. This is if they are launching once an hour. If they are launching multiple Starships and Super Heavy Boosters from the same launch tower then they will need to have systems to rapidly transport a booster or Starship off the tower and far enough away for another booster to be placed for launch.
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8 thoughts on “SpaceX Building a Third Mechazilla Launch Tower”
At least they got mechzilla’s big winches from the rigs when they stripped them, so it wasn’t a total waste.
Uhh, Ensco 8506 is not a semi-sub, it’s a jackup rig. Second, why on earth would anyone want to put a launch pad right next to operational area/crew quarters?
They could be used at Boca Chica, or they could be used on one of those floating platforms. At SOME point, SpaceX is going to need them, I expect.
I was disappointed the platform schedule slipped as much as it has, but SpaceX had other priorities; Getting Starship flying this year is pretty much an existential necessity for the company, they’ve staked their financial viability on it.
I am curious where they stand. You’d think somebody would at least fly a drone past them, and publish photos.
Gwynne Shotwel (SpaceX COO) told reporters last week that SpaceX has sold the oil rig platforms (Phosob and Deimos).
“they were not the right platform.”
The two platform are due to depart from Pascagoula (source NSF forum).
One plausible explanation is that SpaceX calculates the risk for destructive failure for stage zero (the tower catching landing boosters) is rather high in the beginning. So they are simply stocking up on spare parts not to delay the project when (not if) something bad happens.
I think you are correct. Just getting ready for when the booster plows in to ‘zilla.
Then again would also be good to put a wall between the launch pad and all the fuel containers.
Felix has speculated that ther might be a third tower at that location.
This has NOT been verified by SpaceX.
Yes, I am putting the evidence of pictures of the extra Mechazilla tower segments with speculation as to the location.
What do you think will happen with the extra Mechazilla tower segments?
I am obviously willing to speculate and make public predictions. Just like I can project that there will be more than 100 Falcon 9 launches this year.
I am ranked 47th on Metaculus with my public predictions. I am ranked 35th for the past year. I am in the top 1%. My public predictions are right about 90% of the time.
I am a self described futurist blogging at nextbigfuture.com.
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