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The Spaceport Company Performs First Demo of Offshore Launch Ops

The Spaceport Company has successfully demonstrated their capability to conduct launches from a floating platform in US territorial waters for the first time.

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Zac Aubert

Zac Aubert

Tue May 23 2023Written by Zac Aubert

The Spaceport Company has successfully demonstrated their capability to conduct launches from a floating platform in US territorial waters for the first time.

The Spaceport Company and Evolution Space collaborated on the proof-of-concept test, conducting four sounding rocket launches from a platform located in the Gulf of Mexico on May 22. The primary goal of these launches was to assess the feasibility of conducting orbital launches from offshore platforms.

The Spaceport Company emphasized that the test provided valuable insights that would inform their next endeavor: constructing a sea-based spaceport capable of supporting orbital operations.

“This demonstration provided numerous lessons which will be incorporated into our next project: building a sea-based spaceport capable of orbital operations,” - Tom Marotta, Founder of The Spaceport Company

The specific location of the launches was not disclosed by the companies involved. However, airspace closures implemented by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on May 22 indicated that "space operations" were taking place in a small region of the Gulf of Mexico, just south of Gulfport, Mississippi. These airspace closures are typically reserved for launch activities and rarely occur in that particular area.

Evolution Space, a Mojave-based company specializing in solid-propellant launch vehicles for defense and space applications, executed the launches. The company previously achieved its maiden launch beyond the 100-kilometer Kármán Line on April 22 from the California desert, reaching a peak altitude of 124.5 kilometers.

The Spaceport Company intends to develop floating launch platforms based on a ship design known as a liftboat.

Credit : The Spaceport Company

These platforms can navigate to designated locations and deploy legs to anchor themselves to the seafloor, subsequently raising the platform above the water surface. Unlike traditional land-based launch sites, the floating platforms would eliminate the need for extensive infrastructure. The company envisions that constructing and operating such platforms would be more straightforward and less resource-intensive.

This approach becomes increasingly relevant as established launch sites, like Cape Canaveral Space Force Station and the adjacent Kennedy Space Center, face mounting challenges due to the growing demand for launches, straining their existing infrastructure.

The Spaceport Company is actively seeking funding to support the platform's development. The successful demonstration launches and partnerships with launch providers are expected to facilitate the funding process. In April, The Spaceport Company announced a partnership with Vaya Space, a small launch vehicle developer formerly known as Rocket Crafters, with plans to host launches of Vaya Space's vehicles as early as 2025.