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Indonesia & SpaceX considering launchsite there

Capitalism in space: Indonesia has been in discussions with SpaceX and Elon Musk about establishing a SpaceX launch site in that country.

President Joko Widodo discussed the idea with SpaceX founder Elon Musk during a phone call on Friday, the Coordinating Ministry for Maritime and Investment Affairs said in the statement. Musk intends to send a team to Indonesia in January to study partnership opportunities, it said.

Makes sense for Musk to consider such a move, especially if the U.S. and Texas governments start to turn the screws on his Boca Chica launch site. Furthermore, it is his intention to eventually launch Starship/Super Heavy from a floating launch platform. Establishing arrangements with other foreign nations for putting it in their waters gives the company more flexibility.

People always migrate toward freedom. For two hundred and fifty years, that meant they moved to the United States. This now is changing, as the U.S. culture is signaling its increased hostility to this most important founding principle. Expect more stories like this in the coming decades.

Conscious Choice cover

Now available in hardback and paperback as well as ebook!


From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.

Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
Conscious Choice does more however. In telling the tragic history of the Virginia colony and the rise of slavery there, Zimmerman lays out the proper path for creating healthy societies in places like the Moon and Mars.


“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.


All editions available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all book vendors. The ebook can be purchased direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit, in which case you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner. Note that the price for the ebook, $3.99, goes up to $5.99 on September 1, 2022.


Autographed printed copies are also available at discount directly from me (hardback $24.95; paperback $14.95). Just email me at zimmerman @ nasw dot org.


  • Sayomara

    Seems wise for SpaceX not to put all its eggs in the US. Are you going to get a fairly hands off Obama admin or a very controlling Admin. Clearly private business is not a priority for the Democrats right now.

    The other reason this might work to, If SpaceX is trying to get out of California might give them another location to do polar launches which don’t work in Florida or Texas. Depend where this site ends up.

  • Ray Van Dune

    This brings up an issue that I have put out on the NASASpaceflight site, but gotten no responses to, and that is the “outlanding” range of the Superheavy. This range could be defined as the maximum distance SH could recover from if, instead of RTLS, it recovered on a downrange barge or land site.

    Another related range is the “ferry” range, the maximum “hop” ground distance with no payload (but probably a temporary “ferry” nosecone)..

    These numbers would determine a lot of the operational characteristics of using SH in a remote basing location, and the method of delivering SH from its point of manufacture to a remote basing location, or returning SH to a maintenance depot for periodic overhaul.

    Using SH with RTLS only in regular operations could compromise the payload of Starship, but returning to launch site via (say) ship might increase launch cycle time unacceptably, The best compromise might be a downrange outlanding, followed by local hose off and fill up, and then a hop back to the basing launch point.

  • LocalFluff

    Indonesia is a horrible islamist terror nation. It’s no good idea to do any business there.

  • Phill O

    Can any sane person think of investing in a country that has perpetuated lockdowns and been increasingly after people’s money? I, for one, do not want to invest in Canada. With the possibility of a Biden administration, and the pressure by the far left in the USA, investing here seems a poor judgement. Might seem prudent to look where companies like Space-X invest.

    Going after people’s savings

    Increased taxes

  • Rodney

    I think that Indonesian choice comes down to Geography and not politics. To get to Mars, you’re going to need to refuel in orbit. Refueling a Starship in orbit will take about 8 to 10 trips. You can only launch once per day for a rendezvous straight east from Boca Chica. If you have a launch site on or near the Equator, you can launch all the time. It will be an airport like operation. Also, if you want to avoid the extra time in phasing, you have 15 launch opportunities per day. The Starship goes straight to the rendezvous object, connects, transfers fuel, de orbits and lands for a six hour mission. This will increase the mission tempo without increasing the number of vehicles built. As long as you can turn the Heavies and Starships around quick enough. And since they still talk about point to point on Earth, that should be a design requirement. How do they get around the ITAR requirements? Probably keep Boca Chica as the shipyard. All engineering and manufacturing is done in Texas. Superheavies will be shipped to Indonesia and Starships flown there. The MarsX corporation will run the transportation hub from….Gorontalo, Indonesia. Large City near the equator, mostly water for overflights all the way to Ecuador. Most anything going into orbit will be in orbit until they fly over land. This should lessen the liability risks incurred by Indonesia as an Outer Space Treaty signatory. And Gorontalo should be within easy air connection to Singapore, Jakarta, and Manila.

  • Edward

    Ray Van Dune,
    SpaceX wants to increase its Starship capacity to 150 tons from the current 100 ton specification. Using a floating landing pad downrange for Super Heavy may be an important part of that goal, as it may be difficult to increase the Raptor engine’s performance to give Starship that extra capacity.

    I suspect that shipping Super Heavies and Starships on barges will be the less expensive way to transport them. Since SpaceX is all about reducing launch costs and since having a few extra launch vehicles to use while others are in transport is not so very expensive then water shipment rather than self propelled shipment may be the eventual choice. Less sexy, but more cost effective.

    Nice analysis
    Also, if you want to avoid the extra time in phasing, you have 15 launch opportunities per day.

    With multiple equatorial launch sites, there can be much more than 15 launch opportunities per day to the same orbital location, helping to create fleets or convoys to Mars. Another way to provide equatorial launch sites is with floating platforms such as used by Sea Launch. Position a few around the globe during each Mars window and convoys are quick to create.

  • MDN

    Convoys to Mars! Hadn’t thought of that. And the first Starship to lead such a venture should be named the Rubber Duck : )

  • Ray Van Dune

    Edward, thanks for the reply! I recall reading somewhere that SH is not capable of being transported in a horizontal position. I can’t believe that with adequate pressurization and special suspension structure this could not be done, but that is what I read, including that the plan was to fly them from BC to a large platform offshore in the gulf as they were built. This inevitably leads to the question of how to deliver them to launch bases elsewhere in the world, and if that also means all production launches are RTLS. The proposition of delivering/retrieving them “standing” seems a bit daunting!

  • Jay

    Thank you for bringing up ITAR. As soon as I read the headline that was my first thought. There is no way the government will allow SpaceX to launch from there unless there is a hefty political contribution to a good many campaigns to get around that law.

  • Tom Biggar

    The first one to Mars should be the Slim Whitman

  • wayne

    Thanks for bringing that up, –> a horrible islamist terror nation.

  • Phil Wilson

    Polar launches from Cape Canaveral are now possible due to lifting of flight path restrictions over Cuba. I too am concerned about what may happen regarding Boca restrictions. I see TX as helpful but a new EPA cult dominated administration not so much. Were I SpaceX I would look at Brazil as a launch site. Easy barge access from Texas or FL (future).

  • Brian

    What about Malaysia instead, much more stable and more modern free enterprise country. Plenty of over water launch sites available.

  • Max

    This may sound like a cliché but there’s numerous movies and books written about the evil villain and their secret location on the island in the Pacific. (From the Incredibles to James Bond)
    Why not??? This is exactly the kind of branding Elon musk could take advantage of.
    The Earth is covered with 71% water (not counting Antarctica) There are hundreds of pacific atolls that are outside the jurisdiction of any nation. Hundreds more seamounts just below the surface that no one cares about.
    If the human race survives genetic modification, you’ll need somewhere to live thats not infected.
    Yes, Mars is the ultimate goal, but with all best laid plans of man, you must do trial runs of concept engineering, physics with new ideas before you put all your eggs into a risky venture that’s never been done before.
    Before you live underground on Mars, use the boring machine to create an underwater base exploring the techniques and improving on ideas, creating a city and infrastructure for a launch complex with the people training in the survival requirements for a permanent underground habitation. The best of the best will be ready for mars with the most favorable chances of permanent colonization.

    The boring machine can penetrate deep enough that Earth’s heat (magma) will provide all the energy requirements that are necessary, no longer relying on the cruise ship that had provided the energy, desalinization, living quarters and food prep.
    Once proven technology of green energy from continental drift has been demonstrated and viable, it’ll be a source of extreme financial wealth because no nation in the world can deny its usefulness the way they did nuclear power.
    Once established, others will follow. Similar to the fantasy “seaQuest” where individual city states live outside National or corporate control. (Which will soon be China, the way they’re buying up everything with the ultimate goal of retrieving/taking back all their money once they own 51% of everything)
    This also serves to put a segment of the population in a safe location to pursue their ambitions without fear.
    The ultimate goal is the three Ms… Moon, Mars and Mercury. with strong core values, everything can be achieved.
    (Dreaming is my escape of our current reality)

  • Edward

    Ray Van Dune,
    Sea Launch has been moving around a floating drilling platform to use as a launch pad. Blue Origin plans to use a ship as a landing platform. SpaceX could certainly do something similar to transport Super Heavies.

    A year or two ago, they had a plan for moving them from the Los Angeles area to Florida, so that may be still valid.

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