‘The road to Mars runs through Pascagoula’: Second SpaceX rig headed to Halter Marine
PASCAGOULA, Miss. (WLOX) - A second SpaceX oil rig is on the way to Pascagoula. Deimos left Brownsville, Texas port earlier this week.
The huge rig is heading to ST Engineering Halter Marine and Offshore in Pascagoula for conversion. The company confirms Deimos is part of work SpaceX has contracted the shipyard to do. It’s expected to arrive at the South Mississippi shipyard on March 6.
Last year, another oil rig called Phobos arrived in Jackson County as part of the same SpaceX contract.
In January 2021, SpaceX began modifying the former deepwater oil drilling rigs to support launch and landing of their next-generation launch vehicle, Starship.
On February 28, Deimos was seen navigating through Isla Blanca at South Padre Island, Texas, located less than an hour away from the company’s Starbase facility. Isla Blanca Park is where space enthusiasts gather to watch Starship test flights because it is the closest launch-viewing spot.
Elon Musk’s aerospace company states its mission is to send humans and cargo into space including “Mars and Beyond.” The rig names, Phobos and Deimos, are both the names of the two moons of Mars.
In June 2020, Musk said the two offshore platforms would be used both for launches into space, post-launch landings, and for the more long-term Earth-to-Earth transportation.
In an article published last month by NASAspaceflight.com, Musk said hopes to achieve an orbital test launch in 2022, followed by a multitude of various missions from a range of launch site options, from Starbase in Texas to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, and ocean launch platforms. Musk’s ultimate goal, however, is to create a self-sustaining city on Mars.
The ocean launch platforms is where Phobos and Deimos come in.
“We’re going to take one of them and build at least a catch tower on it and ultimately we’ll, ultimately meaning I don’t know, later this year, build a full launch capability on one of the platforms,” Musk told NASASpaceFlight.com. “Hopefully, by the end of this year, we’ll have a launch capability at Cape Kennedy at LC-39A and on one of those platforms as well.”
That first operational platform would allow a template to be formed and the purchase or construction of additional platforms, with Musk adding there “could be quite a few of those.”
“I think most of the launch sites long term will be ocean or sea spaceports, maybe located 20 or 30 miles offshore, and this would allow Starship to connect any cities that are on the ocean or on the sea, and have a high flight rate without disturbing people too much. I think people are willing to have something that’s loud occasionally, but if you want to have it frequently, then it needs to be offshore,” he said.
When asked if these rigs are being converted for use in the Mars mission, our source at the Pascagoula shipyard had no comment. But, he did say we’d learn more in the coming months.
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