KEY POINTS

  • SpaceX is working on floating, sea-based spaceports for rocket launches
  • These ports will not be bound by restrictions imposed on land-based launchpads
  • The first earth-to-earth test flights are expected to take place in 2-3 years

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk confirmed in a tweet Tuesday that the company is building “floating, Superheavy-class spaceports for Mars, Moon and hypersonic travel around the earth.” He added that the company planned to launch its first Earth-to-Earth test flights in two-three years.

He confirmed a scoop from SpaceX watcher SpaceX Fleet that the company was hiring engineers and technicians for its offshore rocket launch facility. SpaceX had created concept renders for seaborne spaceports before, but the company is putting such plans into action.

The hiring is also in sync with Musk’s plans for the company’s Starship reusable rocket, which will be used for space travel and deep space exploration.

Musk also confirmed to former SpaceX user experience designer Russ Parrish that the rocket would be transported via the company’s Hyperloop transportation system using a refurbished oil platform.

Sea-based spaceports have an edge over land-based ones as they are not as bound by the safety and noise restrictions imposed on land-based ports. Floating, movable spaceports can provide engineers and technicians the freedom of placing launch pads as per transportation and other needs.

The Superheavy-class launch vehicles will be needed for long-range space travel to Mars and the Moon, as the rockets will need to carry large payloads. SpaceX had previously showcased the concept renders of Starship with a Superheavy rocket booster, which according to TechCrunch, would reduce the time for Earth-to-Earth spaceflight to a couple of hours.

Starship will be the key component for realizing Musk’s dream of colonizing other planetary bodies and “making humans an interstellar species.”

Musk also wants to greatly decrease the time and cost of travel by flying a plane at the edge of the earth's atmosphere, or beyond it.

The Starship is under construction in Brownsville, Texas, where the company will employ its offshore engineers.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the Crew Dragon spacecraft sits atop launch complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on May 25, 2020 A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the Crew Dragon spacecraft sits atop launch complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on May 25, 2020. Photo: AFP / Gregg Newton