SpaceX’s next spacecraft is under development in Texas, and CEO Elon Musk previously revealed that the company planned to build floating spacecraft for Starship operations, after a job advertisement was posted looking for someone to monitor their development. SpaceX has now acquired two oil rigs to convert for this purpose, as first reported by spaceflight.com’s Michael Baylor, and confirmed by CNBC.
The rigs have been named Deimos and Phoibos by SpaceX, which are the names of the two moons of Mars (and the names of the gods of both fear and dread in Greek mythology before that). The rigs were originally designed for offshore deepwater drilling, up to a maximum depth of 8,500 feet. They are currently located in Brownsville, a port city on the Gulf of Mexico, near SpaceX̵
These vessels measure 240 feet by 255 feet and will in theory be converted to support the launch of the Starship (and perhaps a return landing, given their reusable design). So far, SpaceX has launched and landed its Starship prototypes on land on the Boca Chica website, although so far only lower flights have been made. The company also operates two drone ships, which are 300 meters long and about 170 meters wide, as autonomous floating landing sites for its current Falcon 9 rocket launchers.
SpaceX also posted another ad seeking a resort development manager to turn South Texas facilities into a 21st-century spaceflight, especially looking for someone with expertise in the resort. Meanwhile, Musk confirmed that he moved to Texas in December last year, following a series of public proposals that he would do so in part because of California’s tax and regulatory environment.
Musk’s other company Tesla also chose Austin as the site for the next gig factory in the US, intended for the installation of Cybertruck, Model Y and Tesla Semi, as well as Model 3 cars intended for customers on the east coast. SpaceX has maintained engine testing facilities in McGreger, Texas, and set up Boca Chica as one of two Starship development sites next to Florida, before the South Texas site became the sole focus of spacecraft design and testing after consolidating efforts.