New company aims at providing floating ocean-going spaceports for rocket companies

A new startup, The Spaceport Company, is building a floating ocean-going spaceport for smallsat rocket companies, with the company’s long term goal to provide a range of floating spaceports for rockets of all sizes.

The Spaceport Company is planning to demonstrate a sea-based launch platform in May, conducting four sounding rocket launches from a modified ship in the Gulf of Mexico. “That will help us prove out our logistical, operational and regulatory procedures,” said Tom Marotta, founder and chief executive of the company, during a panel at the SpaceCom conference Feb. 23.

Those tests will be a precursor to developing a full-scale sea-based platform, based on a ship design called a liftboat. That ship can sail to a location and lower legs to anchor itself on the seafloor. The boat can then lift itself out of the water and serve [as] a launch platform.

That first orbital platform would provide launch services for smallsat rockets capable of launching up to one ton, and if the company’s suborbital test launches go well and further investment capital arrives, could be operational by 2025.