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SpaceX buys two floating oil rigs for Starship/Super Heavy

Capitalism in space: As has been expected now since June, SpaceX has now officially purchased two floating oil rigs to be used for the launch and landing of its Starship/Super Heavy reusable heavy-lift rocket.

Named Phobos and Deimos, after the two moons of Mars, they are currently undergoing modifications to support Starship launch operations.

SpaceX has long been hinting at future floating launch and landing sites for their Starship launch system. The super heavy lift launch vehicle will have a large blast danger area and pose noise concerns if launched frequently near populated areas. Therefore, sea launch platforms will play a key role in the launch cadence SpaceX plans to reach with Starship, including on-orbit refueling flights for deep space missions and transportation from one place to another on Earth.

Job postings by SpaceX have indicated that work on offshore launch platforms has begun in Brownsville, Texas, near their Starship manufacturing and launch facilities in Boca Chica. Positions included crane operators, electricians, and offshore operations engineers, and several of the job listings specified that the position was part of the company’s Starship program. Job descriptions for these positions included responsibilities like “designing and building an operational offshore rocket launch facility” and required the “ability to work on an offshore platform in Brownsville, Texas.”

Out of work because you live in a fascist Democratic Party-controlled state and have had your job destroyed by their tyrannical policies? Move to Texas and go to work for SpaceX! At the moment at least the United States remains a collection of 50 sovereign states, with the ability of citizens to move from one to the other freely to improve their lives. Some states, such as Texas and Florida, are moving forward under the American concepts of freedom and private enterprise. Others, such as California and New York, are not.

Want to bet which ones will prosper in the coming decade? I pick Texas and Florida. Anyone willing to bet me?

Pioneer cover

From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.

 
Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

 
The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.


He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.

 
Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit.
 

8 comments

  • James Street

    Bought used, of course. Musk knows how to stretch a dollar.

  • Dick Eagleson

    I’ve been expecting this news for months. It seemed completely beyond reason that SpaceX would not have had something significant like this going on somewhere along the oil-and-gas-centric Gulf Coast of TX whose off-shore platform and support industries have been badly impacted by, first, land-based fracking and, second, the Covid-19 related collapse in vehicular fuel use. So it’s finally been confirmed. And, just as with SpaceX’s “covert” work for months on its drone ships that no one smelled out until shortly before their official announcement, the purchase of these two idled rigs for a literal song happened five months ago.

    These two platforms are likely only the initial pair to be acquired and repurposed over the next several years. What are now the rechristened Deimos and Phobos are only the first two of a class of six such platforms. The remaining four may also be “laid up in ordinary” as the Royal Navy likes to say and, if so, could well soon join their elder siblings under the SpaceX flag. Considering how long after the actual purchase we’re finding out about it, it would not surprise me in the least if it turns out such arrangements have already long since been made.

    The unprecedented openness to 24/7/365 visual scrutiny that SpaceX has allowed, and even encouraged, at Boca Chica has, to some degree, spoiled the space journalism community and served, whether intentionally or not, as a literal bright shiny object that has monopolized attention to the exclusion of other places SpaceX may be engaging in major activities in plain sight. There are, for example, still things going on at the Cocoa, FL industrial site where SpaceX was formerly building the now-long-obsolete Mk2 Starship prototype. This activity, which may constitute development of ISRU propellant production equipment, has passed almost entirely unnoticed.

  • Jimmy McNulty

    I have a relative who worked for SpaceX. He was instructed to solve a problem. Not a lot of instruction, no restrictions.
    Best internship of his life.
    Have heard Koch Industries operates in a similar fashion.
    Roger Bannister broke the 4 minute mile. Every one else followed.
    I think we all have things we don’t think are possible, except they aren’t.

  • Jay

    I hope SpaceX will be competitive with the wages for those working on their rigs. You make a lot working on oil rigs and drilling vessels. I worked on a drilling vessel that was in drydock and chatting with the crew they mentioned that not only were they paid well, but everyone got a bonus of $25k during the last job. Of course that bonus was contingent on them finding oil.

  • john hare

    @Jay,
    I hope that SpaceX does not pay according to people in another industry. Wages and incentives will have to be enough to get people on the job or they won’t be able to staff the operation. That wage may end up being higher, lower, or similar to the oil rig workers that are in a very different industry.

    My employees (all both of them) make more than the local average, not because of generosity, but because that is what it takes to retain my people. And we understand that they could work elsewhere for more direct wages. Their wages are not pegged to the fry cook at McD, or the IT contractors. They are construction wages dictated by the prices I can charge customers times the effectiveness we have in getting the jobs done. A company can go broke by having wages too high and by having them too low. Too high and the company loses money. Too low and a low quality workforce develops.

  • Jay

    @John Hare,
    Yes, I know about wages and how a business works. I am a capitalist. A qualified worker can go where ever they like. I understand, I choose to stay working at my company as an engineer, as opposed to becoming an electricians mate on a rig/drilling vessel.

    If you want trained personnel who are experienced on a rig, you will look for rig workers. Not all the workers on a rig are directly working on the oil pumping systems. There are many support personnel that keep the rig going: electronics technicians, power engineers, I.T., etc…
    To be out on these rigs for a long duration is not easy for some people. You don’t work eight hours and be ferried back to the mainland, you live there. One of my co-workers was on an oil rig in the North Sea for six months. It is a tough job. You want qualified people, you have to pay competitive wages.

  • john hare

    @Jay,
    My apologies for reading meaning into your comment that wasn’t there. Too many comments in the past by people that think companies have a magically unlimited pot of money.

    I can certainly agree that qualified people will be needed, and that pay will have to be commensurate with the requirements. Being unfamiliar with normal pay and tasks for riggers, I’ll stop here.

  • Jay

    @John Hare,
    No problems. I am glad we both agree on hiring qualified people for the right job and private businesses do not print money.

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