SpaceX Starship offshore platforms

(Redirected from Deimos (launch platform))

SpaceX's Starship offshore platformsDeimos and Phobos—are former deepwater oil drilling rigs. In January 2021, SpaceX began modifying them to support launch and landing of their next-generation launch vehicle, Starship. Both platforms are part of the Ensco 8500 Series Semi Submersible-type.[1][2]

SpaceX Starship offshore platform
ENSCO 8506 Offshore Semi-Submersible Oil Drilling Rig (47504222982).jpg
ENSCO/Valaris 8506, very similar to the models acquired by SpaceX
Deimos launch history
StatusIn port for refit
Phobos launch history
StatusIn port for refit


SpaceX CEO Elon Musk first showed offshore launch and landing platforms for Starship in a 2017 animation of the Earth-to-Earth passenger-carrying use case.[3][4] More recently, Musk clarified in June 2020 that offshore platforms would be used both for launches into space, post-launch landings, and for the more long-term Earth-to-Earth transportation.[3][5][6] 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. The drilling platforms had previously been named ENSCO/Valaris 8500 and 8501, respectively, and were nearly identical as built and when purchased by SpaceX.[4][7]

In January 2021, Phobos was moved from the Port of Galveston to Pascagoula, Mississippi to begin refit of the rig for Starship operations[8] by removal of the oil rig equipment, a planned six-month project.[9] As of July 2021 the rig has been cleared of the bulk of the old equipment on its deck.[10]

As of January 2021, refit is also underway on Deimos at the Port of Brownsville.[4][7] In February 2021, Musk stated that one of the platforms may be partially operational by the end of 2021, and that in order to be transported to the platforms Starships would fly out to sea and land on the platform.[11][12] In February 2021, Musk stated that the platforms would eventually be used for landing[12] and launch operations in 2022.[13]

In February 2022, Musk indicated that one of the two platforms would have a launch tower installed by the end of the year.[14]


As refit began in 2021, both vessels had a main deck dimension of 73 m (240 ft) by 78 m (256 ft). The platforms were designed to operate in ocean depths as great as 2,600 m (8,500 ft) when previously configured as drilling rigs with equipment that needed to reach the ocean floor. As drilling rigs, the platforms had living quarters for 150 people.[15] Each of the oil rigs are equipped with two Seatrax S90 cranes, which matches SpaceX's job listings.[4]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Valaris 8500" (PDF). Retrieved 2022-06-11.
  2. ^ "Valaris 8501" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2021-11-09. Retrieved 2022-06-11.
  3. ^ a b Mosher, Dave (16 June 2020). "Elon Musk: 'SpaceX is building floating, superheavy-class spaceports' for its Starship rocket to reach the moon, Mars, and fly passengers around Earth". Business Insider. Archived from the original on 17 June 2020. Retrieved 27 January 2021.
  4. ^ a b c d Burghardt, Thomas (19 January 2021). "SpaceX acquires former oil rigs to serve as floating Starship spaceports". NASASpaceFlight. Archived from the original on 20 January 2021. Retrieved 20 January 2021.
  5. ^ Sheetz, Michael (1 September 2020). "Elon Musk says SpaceX's Starship rocket will launch "hundreds of missions" before flying people". CNBC. Archived from the original on 2 September 2020. Retrieved 2 September 2020.
  6. ^ Musk, Elon [@elonmusk] (16 June 2020). "SpaceX is building floating, superheavy-class spaceports for Mars, moon & hypersonic travel around Earth" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  7. ^ a b Sheetz, Michael (19 January 2021). "SpaceX bought two former Valaris oil rigs to build floating launchpads for its Starship rocket". CNBC. Archived from the original on 19 January 2021. Retrieved 19 January 2021.
  8. ^ Baylor, Michael [@nextspaceflight] (22 January 2021). "SpaceX's newly acquired oilrig "Phobos" is arriving in Pascagoula, Mississippi ahead of conversion to support Starship operations" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  9. ^ SpaceX is here.’ How MS Coast company could help Elon Musk launch ships to Mars, SunHerald, 3 June 2021, accessed 5 June 2021.
  10. ^ "Update on SpaceX's Gulf Coast Fleet; A Shortfall of Gravitas droneship and Phobos launch platform". Space Explored. 2021-07-07. Archived from the original on 2021-08-25. Retrieved 2021-08-25.
  11. ^ Arevalo, Evelyn (24 February 2021). "SpaceX is repurposing oil rigs to build a Starship spaceport that could be in 'limited operation' this year". TESMANIAN. Archived from the original on 25 February 2021. Retrieved 26 February 2021.
  12. ^ a b Musk, Elon [@elonmusk] (24 February 2021). "They will fly there from our launch site" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  13. ^ Musk, Elon [@elonmusk] (30 May 2021). "Ocean spaceport Deimos is under construction for launch next year" (Tweet). Retrieved 30 May 2021 – via Twitter.
  14. ^ Mooney, Justin; Bergin, Chris (11 February 2022). "Musk outlines Starship progress towards self-sustaining Mars city". NASASpaceFlight. Retrieved 12 February 2022.
  15. ^ "ENSCO 8500 Series® Ultra-Deepwater Semisubmersibles" (PDF). Ensco plc. Archived (PDF) from the original on 21 January 2021. Retrieved 21 January 2021.