SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell told reporters after a presentation at the Federal Aviation Administration Commercial Space Transportation Conference Feb. 8 that the compa.
Deimos and Phobos are the ex deepwater drilling rigs Ensco 8500 and 8501. SpaceX purchased both rigs in 2020 with plans to utilize the former deepwater rigs as floating launch vehicle operations platform. SpaceX began modifying them to support launch and landing of their next-generation launch vehicle, Starship, in 2021.
In January 2021, Phobos was moved from the Port of Galveston to Pascagoula, Mississippi to begin refit of the rig for Starship operations by removal of the oil rig equipment, a planned six-month project. As of July 2021 the rig had been cleared of the bulk of the old equipment on its deck.
As of January 2021, refit was also underway on Deimos at the Port of Brownsville. In February 2021, Musk stated that one of the platforms might be partially operational by the end of 2021, and that in order to be transported to the platforms they intended that Starships would fly out to sea and land on the platform. In February 2021, Musk stated that the platforms would be used for landing and launch operations in 2022.
However, on 9 February Shotwell said “We bought them. We sold them. They were not the right platform.”
The company’s current Starship launch pad at its Starbase facility in Boca Chica, Texas, is limited in the number of orbital launches it can host by an FAA environmental review and state regulations for access to a nearby beach. The company is building another Starship launch site at Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A.
Shotwell did not disclose to whom the rigs were sold.
ENSCO 8500, was the first of Ensco’s seven ultra deepwater semisubmersible rigs constructed by Keppel FELS in Singapore. Ensco 8500 was delivered in Singapore in September 2008 and Ensco 8501 in June 2009.
(Source: Space X/Wikipedia/Space News – Image: Ensco 8500/Ensco)