Elon Musk: SpaceX's Ocean Spaceport Deimos Will Launch Starship Next Year

It's official!
Brad Bergan
Elon Musk at a conference.Daniel Oberhaus (2018) / Flickr

Elon Musk announced that SpaceX's construction of the ocean spaceport 'Deimos' is moving forward, with a soft deadline for Starship launches next year, according to a Sunday tweet.

The offshore launch platform is an ocean juggernaut that will function as an integrated part of the Starship rocket system, and Musk retweeted a reply to a rendered image one of his fans shared to the internet on Sunday.

Elon Musk confirms SpaceX's spaceport Deimos is 'under construction'

The offshore platform will provide launch and landing capabilities for SpaceX's Starship, which Musk claims is destined to take humans to Mars. Earlier this year, SpaceX bought two defunct oil rigs near Texas' coast, to be transformed into "floating" launchpads for the Starship. The two converted oil rigs are named Phobos and Deimos, after the two little moons of Mars.

In his tweet, Elon Musk confirmed the existence of the spaceport, and admitted a fan's rendering of the future-tense operational site posted on social media. The rendered image shows one of the offshore platforms stationed in the ocean under a low, cloudy sky, with a fully-stacked Starship awaiting, erect, perhaps minutes away from an orbital launch.

Since SpaceX successfully landed its Starship SN15 in Boca Chica, Texas — the first prototype to land without exploding in a tremendously violent fireball — Musk's company has continued to develop further iterations of the Mars-bound rocket model. SpaceX has skipped the SN12, SN13, and SN14, in favor of Marks 1 through 3 of the SN15 Starship. Now that the private aerospace firm has successfully landed a Starship, the next step is to repeat the test launch with a Super Heavy rocket attached to the bottom.

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A 'bunch of people will probably die' on the path to settling Mars

While Elon Musk has yet to set a rigid deadline for Starship's landing on Mars, last October the CEO rolled back his initial estimation of touchdown on Mars in 2022, setting his sights on the next launch window of 2024, according to an interview held during a Mars Society virtual convention.

The solar orbits of Earth and Mars bring the planets to their closest pass roughly once per two years, which is why we had three robotic missions launched toward the Red Planet, including NASA's Perseverance rover and China's Zhurong rover, within weeks of one another in 2020. "I think we've got a fighting chance," said Musk on the subject of landing on Mars in 2024, during the convention. But to make it happen, the CEO's SpaceX team needs to go a lot faster, and he isn't afraid of making sacrifices to do it. During an interview in April of this year, Musk said the first people to travel to Mars will not be unlike those who explored Antarctica.

A "bunch of people will probably die," admitted the billionaire, about the process of settling Mars in the coming decades. In light of this, it's perhaps not inappropriate for the newly-rendered image of Starship, the Super Heavy, and SpaceX's ocean launch spaceport to involve gray clouds hanging out of a low sky, with a feeling of industrial inevitability practically tangible throughout. The trip to Mars will certainly be perilous, and present us with many questions as launches begin from the offshore platforms in 2022.

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