It looks as though man’s first mission to Mars might begin on an old oil rig.
SpaceX has acquired two platform drilling rigs off the coast of Brownsville, Texas to serve as future floating spaceports named Phobos and Deimos.
SpaceX has been touting plans for floating launch and landing sites for quite a while now. It would certainly address the problems of large blast areas and noise concerns near populated areas. These launch platforms will play a vital role in the frequency of launches that Space X hopes to reach with Starship.
These two rigs were sold to an undisclosed buyer in August 2020 when an offshore drilling company named Valaris filed for bankruptcy. As it turns out, the undisclosed buyer was SpaceX, who bought the rigs for $3.5 million… each.
A slew of new SpaceX job postings in South Texas confirm that work has already begun on the rigs, which also solidifies their strong commitment to Brownsville and its community.
Aside from noise concerns and blast radii, there are a few interesting theories why SpaceX might seek offshore launches and landings. Environmental reasons, safety in landings and potential malfunctions, and Maritime law.
Sea-based spaceports with an absence of international regulation could open an abundance of doors for Elon Musk & SpaceX. Offshore, these sites may be able to use the same loopholes of maritime law that we see in other commercial marine industries.
A story we’ll be following exclusively, here at Space Channel News.
As we get closer to humans on Mars, we’re finally going to hear from the planet itself.
NASA’s Perseverance Rover is equipped with specialized microphones to record actual sounds from the Red Planet. This is a first, and gives us a new dimension of situational awareness from afar.
When the Rover SuperCam lasers a rock, small amounts vaporizes into “plasma”,
The heat and vibration creates a shockwave that makes a popping sound. SuperCam’s camera and spectrometer can “read” the hot gas to reveal the chemical makeup of the vaporized rock. At the same time, the microphone hears the staccato “pop” as the laser strikes a rock several feet away from Perseverance.
The “pop” it makes revels the mass and makeup of the rock. The sound intensity reveals the relative hardness of the rocks, which can tell us more about their geological context. Whether the rock was formed in a lake or from wind-driven material, or how much pressure was involved in its formation. All without ever driving up and touching it.
This gives the rover the chance to hear the sounds of Mars, such as the high-pitched sound of sand grains over the surface, the wind whistling around the rover mast, and low-pitched howls of dust devils passing by.
The microphone will also record sounds from the rover, arm, coring rocks, and the wheels crunching against the surface. Even decent and landing.
In some cases, Rover audio can help diagnose the health of the rover’s internal mechanisms and instruments. Until now, tech like this was unheard of