The Port of Pensacola has a 600-foot visitor that will soon be a landing platform for rockets, but questions remain as to why it is there and for how long it will remain.
The 600-foot cargo ship the Stena Freighter arrived in the Port of Pensacola on Thursday after making a transatlantic voyage from Portugal.
Blue Origin, the private rocket company started by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, will be using the ship as a landing platform for the company's New Glenn rocket design expected to lift off in 2020 for its first test flight.
Blue Origin CEO Bob Smith confirmed during the Aerospace Futures Alliance Summit on Oct. 10 that the Stena Freight would be used to land rockets, according to a report from the technology news website GeekWire.
The U.S. Air Force announced earlier this month that it would spend up to $500 million for future national security launches on Blue Origin's New Glenn rocket.
If Blue Origins builds the rocket, it will be the second company to launch reusable rockets and land them at sea. SpaceX became the first company to land the first stage of a rocket on a ship at sea in 2016 when its Falcon 9 rocket touched down on the unmanned ship Of Course I Still Love You off the Florida coast.
Unlike SpaceX, whose rockets land on a stationary barge, Blue Origin's rockets will be able to land on a moving ship, Smith said.
The Stena Freighter, built in 2004, has served as a roll-on/roll-off cargo ship, known as a ro-ro ship, and features a large ramp on the back where cargo-like trucks and cars can be loaded and unloaded.
Stena Line, a European ferry company, owned the ship before it was sold to Blue Origin.
Exactly how long the ship will be in Pensacola and why it is here is unknown.
Vernon Stewart, city of Pensacola spokesman, referred questions about the ship to Blue Origin.
Blue Origin did not return the News Journal's request for comment.
However, at the Oct. 11 City Council meeting, Jack Burglund with Offshore Inland Marine & Oilfield Services said on top of being scheduled to bring in seven oil tankers for refit and repair to the Port of Pensacola, the company would have a major announcement soon.
All questions to Offshore Inland were directed back to the city of Pensacola, but Burglund's comments at the City Council on Oct. 11 align with the arrival of Stena Freighter in the port.
"We have an absolutely huge announcement to make probably within the week," Burglund said at the Oct. 11 meeting. "Unfortunately, both me and Offshore Inland are locked into a non-disclosure where we can't announce the name of the company, but we did sign a contract that will have a vessel arriving here next week for upwards of two years. That will be working between 50-75 people a day."
Crews could be seen at the port loading large pieces of metal onto the ship on Tuesday.
Quelle: pensacola news journal