SpaceX is already underway on building its first floating spaceport platform, and the plan is for it to start hosting launches as early as next year. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk shared those details on the progress of its build for Deimos, one of two converted oil rigs that SpaceX purchased earlier this year in order to transform them into floating launch and landing sites for its forthcoming Starship reusable rocket.
SpaceX's purchase of the two rigs at the beginning of this year was for the creation of Deimos and Phobos, two floating spaceports named after the moons of Mars. They'll act as offshore staging grounds for Starship launch activities, and the name is appropriate because the eventual plan is to have Starship provide transport for both people and goods to and from the red planet.
Musk and SpaceX have previously shared their vision for a future in which spaceports like Deimos are positioned within convenient reach of major hubs around the world, making it possible for SpaceX to operate a globe-spanning network of hypersonic point-to-point travel using Starships ferrying people from destinations as far flung as Beijing to New York in around 30 minutes. Before that, however, SpaceX will be looking to conduct orbital flight testing of the still in-development Starship, and its accompany booster, the Super Heavy.
Musk said earlier this year that it could begin flying rockets from its offshore platforms as early as the end of 2021. This new timeline indicates that rosy estimate has been pushed, which is pretty standard for the multi-CEO. The company has recently made good progress in its Starship program, however, with a successful high-altitude launch and landing test at its Texas "Starbase" development site.
SpaceX is now in the process of getting ready for its first orbital flight test, which will include flying Starship atop Super Heavy for the first time, and a recovery of the Starship following the test after it splashes down off the coast of Hawaii. It's now doing longer fire Raptor engine ground tests to get ready for that next big milestone.