Don’t think SpaceX is toning down its spaceflight ambitions in light of the pandemic — if anything, the company is ramping things up. Elon Musk has confirmed a SpaceXFleet scoop (via TechCrunch) that SpaceX is hiring staff to help build “floating, superheavy-class spaceports” for Mars and Moon missions, not to mention hypersonic flights for Earth. The private spaceflight outfit had teased the possibility of seaborne ports in concept renders before, but the plans are only really solidifying now.
The focus suggests these ports will be geared around Starship, SpaceX’s reusable rocket intended for everything from hypersonic travel through to deep space exploration. Musk added that the plan “pretty much” lined up with a Twitter follower’s speculation that these ports would be refurbished oil platforms with Hyperloops to carry people to and from the land.
Ports on the water might be necessary. There are only so many locations where land-based spaceports are realistic, as rocket operators have to worry about safety and noise. Floating ports can remove much of the danger while placing launchpads closer to where they’re needed. However essential they are, you’ll probably be waiting a while for them when Musk doesn’t expect Earth-to-Earth test flights for “2 or 3 years.” This is more a peek at the future than a sign of anything happening sooner.