SpaceX Will Not Convert Oil Rig Platforms Into Sea Launch Platforms

Gwynne Shotwell told reporters last week that SpaceX sold the two oil rigs that SpaceX was converting for launching and landing rockets. Shotwell said they were not the right platform. SpaceX is still interested in sea-based launch platforms, but the company wants to start flying Starship first and understand it before proceeding.

16 thoughts on “SpaceX Will Not Convert Oil Rig Platforms Into Sea Launch Platforms”

  1. A very sensible decision at this stage. Until they know more about the specifications and operation of an evolved Superheavy/Starship system, it would be mad to spend time and money on a couple of random rigs. Rigs come in lots of variants and sizes, and while repurposed old rigs might be suitable, they need to know which ones are suitable. Their analysis may also prove it more effective to commission their own purpose built rigs if their needs deviate significantly from what’s available repurposed. Anyhow they have plenty of time to get their land based operations sorted before they start to hit constraints requiring them to move offshore.

  2. Seen oil price is high now and the rig demands high a reason why Elon Musk sell his oil rig he bought before.

  3. my hunch is that star shipped stacked up on an oil rig is not safe in high sea states. Pictures of the tower lend me to believe it is heavy and massive. You cant just safely add thousands of pounds of mass to a super tall oil rig. Maybe they will design something more custom once they crash/land a few.

    • I’m pretty sure they ran the basic numbers; While the launch tower is pretty heavy, these platforms are absolutely gargantuan, floating skyscrapers. And these particular platforms were jack-up platforms, when they arrive at their location they lower legs to the sea floor, so they’re pretty stable.

      But a custom built platform would probably handle things like protecting the fuel and oxidizer tanks better.

  4. “Not the right platform”. How so? These oil rigs are massive, already constructed and well… movable. They are heavily corroded though so…it might not be worth effort to overhaul. They’re probably drawing up plans on even more collosal launch platforms to be sprinkled around the world’s oceans.

  5. Interesting. That explains the lack of progress and news concerning them.

    Still, they’re going to need something like that, eventually, at the launch cadences they’ve been talking about. The FAA is never going to permit a dozen launches a day from Boca Chica even if their infrastructure were up to it.

  6. My first thoughts were, that Elon wants to launch rockets near Equator, because it is better, more optimal spot and saves fuel,… or less hassle with bureaucracy & permissions if they would launch from sea.

    • That makes sense.

      But I wonder what the transportation costs would be and if time delays matter? Manufacturing and refurbishing would almost certainly be done In Texas, Florida, Alabama, or California.

      Third-world infrastructure and politics have hidden costs. It’s not just workforce issues that would be a concern.

      And finally, how happy would federal/state politicians and bureaucrats be if SpaceX moved launches outside U.S. soil? SpaceX’s bread and butter are U.S. government contracts.

      • The existing plan is to produce a lot of platforms to a template in shipyards and use them for Starship point to point – cargo at first. It would provide a distributed capability to for example launch a lot of propellant quickly. If near the equator so much better. The only way SpaceX can scale launch to match its mass production of Starships is something like this. It was always a long shot that they could use dirt cheap old oil platforms rather than a custom build.

      • Boeing, Mcdonnell Douglas, Northrop Grumman… all sell to overseas markets, flights to anywhere, from anywhere. FAA & DoD approved. No different than United Airlines.

        Starship will likely offer commercial service on the world market, similar to Falcon 9 offerings. Global freight service will provide delivery to a chopstick tower at various ports, outside of the Continental US. Return flights will likely be reloaded, refueled & launched to the next port.

    • The French government should propose SpaceX to launch from Kourou, French guiana. France can build deep water port facilities, and buy or lease 2-4 super heavy boosters. Then, Arianespace and Europe can build expendable LH2/LO2 second stages for 250+ tons to LEO. Benefits all parties. I hope the French govt reads this…

  7. Good. This purchase of the oil rigs always sounded to me like putting the cart before the horse. Like an idea floated on a meeting and performed just to humor Musk.

    Elon is no fool, but he does seem to believe he can’t go wrong. Well, he does some times, like everyone.

    Starship has yet to do a single orbital flight. The fully stacked launcher behavior is still an unknown.

    They are re-evaluating expendable mode, to launch something even at a higher price. Launching rockets produce revenue, those stuck on the ground don’t.

Comments are closed.