SpaceX launch platforms

The CNBC link says they came from Valaris.


Looks like a ENSCO 8500 series rig on the picture:
Built in Singapore from 2009 - 12:


Here is confirmation. It is the former ENSCO 8500 and 8501:

The Mr. Lone Skum (world’s richest man according to Fake News media and himself) SpaceX Starship is 122 m tall with 9 m diameter and has a total mass of 5000 tons at lift off to go to Mars. How Mr. Skum will be able to load it on some old floating oil rig for deep water drilling is a mystery to me. And what about the passengers going to Mars? How to reach the rig with the Starship and climb aboard? Imaging going to planet Mars - it takes 250 days - starting with a little cruise to an oil rig. And the return? Better not talk about it! After a 250 days return trip they shall land on the rig again and climb down to a boat for a short cruise back to shore.

After watching the Armageddon movie over 20 times because it was 1 of only 6 movies onboard during the VHS days I think it makes perfect sense. I hope they get the tool pusher, the crane operator & some roustabouts to man the spaceship too.


gCaptain Job Posting:

Position: Chief Engineer, 1A/E, 2A/E, 3A/E & Electrician.

Employer: SpaceX

Vessel Type: Semi-Submersible

Job Description: Must be willing to stay in Engine Control Room while a rocket filled with liquified explosive gases blasts off to Mars from deck overhead.

Pay: Depends on psychiatric evaluation plus a free electric car.


This is what engineers are for…you know…because they are sooooo smart

180 tons for the first stage, 120 tons for the seconds stage and up to 100 tons of payload to LEO. Even a single lift shouldn’t be a major challenge. Of course they’ll need a purpose-built launching tower to support the rocket during transit to the launching area, but I don’t think that’s a major challenge either.

I’m not that familiar with column-stabilized units. Is the initial stability sufficient to keep the whole thing upright when there’s a 122-metre rocket with a mass of 5000 tons and fairly uniform weight distribution standing on the main deck?

But why launch manned rockets to Mars from platforms at sea? What’s wrong with doing it from stable, solid ground ashore (if you can do it at all)?
Aha!! The offshore platforms were owned by some people having gone bankrupt so the platforms were sold as scrap. ROTGL

First I would like to say I sincerely wish SpaceX all the luck in the world. I have no problem with how they conduct their business because it isn’t mine & rocket science is usually conducted by smart, innovated people.

But I wonder if they considered the sea turtles & environmentalists when making these purchases? In the early 2000’s I participated in a BP operation called the DeadHorse Project. They would recycle old rigs, blowing some up at the base to make into reefs or lift onto barges. The BP boss had all types of nightmare stories about having to delay explosions for hours or days because some sea life swam within a certain distance of the explosion zone. We always had BP paid environmental representatives in the field searching for sealife & pollution. Musk will need to use some of his banked environmentalists goodwill or payoff some enviro-extortionists to pull this off with on-time launches IMO.

Sea launch gives flexibility for selecting an optimal launch site both from orbital mechanics point of view as well as with regard to weather window. There’s also no danger of bits and pieces falling in populated areas if something goes wrong during the launch.

As for pollution, obviously there’s going to be a lot of this and that ending up in the sea if the thing explodes on the platform and everything sinks afterwards, but if all goes according to plans, the launch only produces CO2 and water as a byproduct. Also, I think above-surface launch has a significantly smaller impact on wildlife than underwater explosions.


Launching rockets from converted Semi-submersible drilling rigs is nothing new.
It has the advantage of being able to launch from a site on Equator. (Which gives an extra boost due the earths rotation)
Sea Launch was in activity from the US until 2014, when it went into Chapter 11.
The launch platform Odyssey and the command ship Sea Launch Commander has been taken over by a Russian company that is planning to reactivate the operation:

The Chinese is also launching rockets from a floating platform in the Yellow Sea:

To use the eastward rotational speed on the earth’s surface, the launch station must be on the east coast of continents, the nearest possible to the equator, have a free oceanic surface eastwards for harmless landing of lower stages or other debris and, for staffed vehicles (e.g. Space Shuttle), have some emergency landing places.

This limits the theoretical places to the east of South America and to East Africa (northern Kenya and Somalia !).
Unfortunately, equatorial regions are often in or near the doldrums with their heavy rains and thunderstorms. Floating launch platforms may give some flexibility (and avoid some political problems).

The earth’s rotational speeds at sea level are:

  • Equator = 465 m/s
  • Kourou Space Center (French Guiana) at 5.2°N = 463 m/s
  • Cape Canaveral Space Center FL at 28.5°N = 409 m/s
  • Vandenberg AFB CA is only used for satellites on near polar orbits

This seems not to bee a large difference.
However, for heavy load interplanetary launches, every ounce can make the difference of reaching the intermediate earth orbit… or not.

Building the launcher more powerful, you may reach the point where the supplementary weight (hardware and fuel) will only permit a lift-off without payload…
A completely new launcher type may be needed.

In order to fly to the Moon and planet Mars you must first get off the ground of Earth to start orbiting Earth at a certain altitude and direction. After adjusting your location in that orbit you must blast off to the Moon or Mars in a new orbit, if you know how, when and where to do it. So it really doesn’t matter where on Earth you start from - on old oil rig at sea or from Kasachstan - Russian style. The problem is to get away from orbiting Earth to arrive at your target, e.g. planet Mars with Lone Skum at the helm after 250+ days. In my opinion it is not possible at all, i.e. changing orbits in space, so all humans in space so far have just been cheap actors. Then there is the problem to slow down and land on arrival. I have asked Captain Skum about it with no result. Maybe his tugs and pilots at arrival will do it?