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SpaceX could launch Starship Mars rocket from ocean platform as soon as 2022

The company's rocket could begin point-to-point flights around Earth soon.

Eric Mack Contributing Editor
Eric Mack has been a CNET contributor since 2011. Eric and his family live 100% energy and water independent on his off-grid compound in the New Mexico desert. Eric uses his passion for writing about energy, renewables, science and climate to bring educational content to life on topics around the solar panel and deregulated energy industries. Eric helps consumers by demystifying solar, battery, renewable energy, energy choice concepts, and also reviews solar installers. Previously, Eric covered space, science, climate change and all things futuristic. His encrypted email for tips is ericcmack@protonmail.com.
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Eric Mack
2 min read
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This dramatic render shows Starship and Super Heavy launching on a cloudy day.

SpaceX

SpaceX founder and chief engineer Elon Musk hopes to have a launch platform in the Gulf of Mexico ready for Starship testing at some point in 2022.

So far the company has conducted all test flights of its next-generation Mars rocket system from its development facility on shore in the tiny Texas community of Boca Chica, a place Musk has been campaigning to re-christen as Starbase, Texas.

Last year a SpaceX subsidiary purchased two former deep water oil rigs, renamed them Phobos and Deimos after the moons of Mars, and began converting them to offshore launch pads. Musk's hopes Starship will carry humans to Mars later this decade.

On Sunday, Musk tweeted an update, announcing that "ocean spaceport Deimos is under construction for launch next year."

The plan is to eventually use the offshore spaceports for launches to Mars, the moon and super fast point-to-point trips on Earth.

Eariler this year, Musk explained that Starships will be transported to the offshore launch pads by actually flying to them. So far, we've only seen Starship prototypes flying about 6 miles (10 kilometers) into the sky and then coming back down for a soft landing next to the launch pad.

Watch this: SpaceX's exploding Starship: Why this massive rocket keeps blowing up

Deimos and Phobos are meant for the "full stack" Starship and Super Heavy booster combination. We haven't yet seen Super Heavy in action, but Musk has said he hopes to conduct the first orbital flight of a Starship and Super Heavy from Boca Chica as soon as July.

Part of Musk's original ambition for Starship included a number of offshore launch and landing pads like Phobos and Deimos around the world. We could begin to see that vision come to life in the Gulf of Mexico as soon as next year.

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