Elon Musk said SpaceX's floating oil rig platform could begin operations later this year, according to a tweeted Wednesday reply to a reporter.
Elon Musk says SpaceX's floating oil rig platforms could be operational this year
The floating oil rig platforms — which Elon Musk may have purchased sometime early this year — will serve as the launch pads for regular point-to-point flights of SpaceX's Starship, the company's next-gen space-worthy transport.
One of them may be in limited operation by end of year— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 24, 2021
"One of them may be in limited operation by end of year," tweeted CEO SpaceX Elon Musk.
Once it's ready, SpaceX's Starship will launch people from the floating oil rig platforms into Earth's outer atmosphere — cutting transit times of nominal international flights from nearly a full day to roughly 30 minutes.
The reason for SpaceX's use of floating oil rig platforms is to prevent what could become heavy and likely regular rocket launches from disturbing the local environment — which means the spaceports of the near future will float.
SpaceX's oil rig platforms will be stationed in the Gulf of Mexico
Musk has spoken about his plans for floating oil rig launch platforms previously — not to mention the company's recent purchase of two defunct oil rigs, which were named Phobos and Deimos — after Mars' two moons.
The two oil rig platforms are at present undergoing a comprehensive retrofitting for Starship compatibility, and will be positioned in the Gulf of Mexico, not far from SpaceX's Brownsville, Texas development site.
Elon Musk's SpaceX aims to launch Starship passengers from major cities
While the tech billionaire is renowned for his overly-optimistic timelines, several of his predictions have come true with surprising accuracy as of late (compared to other, more grandiose timelines).
Of course, what Elon Musk means by "in limited operation" isn't really clear. He could mean in-situ test launches of a future Starship prototype — or he could simply mean that the floating oil rigs will be moved out to their official launching stations, with no launches happening this year.
Musk has emphasized his plans to place floating launchpads throughout the world — possibly even in New York City — which runs parallel to his bold plan, which debuted via CG concept videos depicting launching and landing stations in bodies of water adjacent to major urban centers.
While we can't say when Elon Musk's SpaceX will begin ferrying people around the world in half an hour via Starship launches from floating launch platforms, it's difficult to resist the urge to excitement when imagining a future where, instead of sitting on a trans-pacific flight to say, Japan, New Yorkers could simply take a train to the East River, climb into a rocket, and step out in Tokyo within an hour.
This was a breaking story and was regularly updated as new information became available.