Offshore drilling rigs move from marine cover to space?

Two offshore drilling rigs that previously had been used for oil and gas exploration could soon help with space exploration. A company linked to SpaceX head Elon Musk reportedly has bought two deepwater semi-submersible drilling rigs with plans to convert them into floating launch pads for Musk’s SpaceX rockets.

According to CNBC, Lone Star Mineral Development, which is linked to Musk’s Space X firm, bought two semi-submersible drilling rigs from Valaris in 2020.

The two rigs in question are the Valaris 8500 and Valaris 8501. Lone Star reportedly paid $7m for the pair, which are 11 and 12 years old and would have cost about $200m to build new.

Ensco in 2019 merged with Rowan Drilling to create Valaris, the world’s largest offshore drilling firm by fleet size. In early 2020 Valaris moved to lower costs by stacking several of its competitive rigs and deciding to retire seven other rigs, including the 8500 and the 8501 semi-submersibles. In August 2020 it filed for bankruptcy.

In 2020 Musk said that “SpaceX is building a floating, superheavy-class spaceports for Mars, moon & hypersonic travel around Earth.”

The two drilling rigs, which are now possibly space terminals, are now called Deimos and Phobos.