SpaceX has possibly bought two oil rigs for future launches and landings of its Starship vehicle on missions to Mars – and has named them after the Martian moons Phobos and Deimos.
Starship is SpaceX’s bold new rocket designed to one day transport up to 100 people at a time to the Red Planet.
Multiple prototypes of the vehicle are being developed at a site in Boca Chica, Texas – and last month a prototype called SN8 flew to Starship’s highest altitude yet.
It has been known for some time that SpaceX intended to perform launches and landings of Starship on ocean platforms, allowing it to operate around the world – with CEO Elon Musk tweeting as such last June.
And now Twitter users have spotted a few recent acquisitions by the company, which suggest it may have already moved ahead with this plan.
Writing on Twitter, launch photographer Jack Beyer said he had spotted an oil rig at the Port of Brownsville in Texas named Deimos – like one of the two Martian moons, the other being Phobos.
“Based on job postings and [Elon Musk’s] tweets, I’m willing to bet that SpaceX is involved,” he wrote.
Michael Baylor from the website NASASpaceflight.com soon followed up the discovery, noting that two oil rigs previously named ENSCO 8500 and ENSCO 8501 had been purchased by SpaceX for $3.5 million each.
In September 2020, their names were changed to “Deimos” and “Phobos”.
The oil rigs were bought by a company called Lone Star Mineral Development LLC last year, which another user linked to SpaceX CFO Bret Johnsen.
SpaceX did not immediately respond to a request for comment, while Musk had not yet publicly commented on the matter on Twitter.
But it certainly seems plausible that SpaceX may have bought and renamed these oil rigs after the moons of Mars – especially as Musk has been known to give SpaceX property unusual names in the past.
The company’s floating barges used for its Falcon 9 sea landings, for example, are called Just Read The Instructions and Of Course I Still Love You – named after starships in books by the sci-fi author Iain M. Banks.
If these oil rigs are indeed owned by SpaceX, it will soon likely begin refurbishing them to be used on Starship launches and landings in the future.
And, like many of SpaceX’s activities, there will be plenty of eager spectators watching on as that happens.
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