[Update: Elon confirms purchase] Mysterious SpaceX crane tread shows up on German Autobahn

spacex crane tread

Update: In a reply to the images SpaceX CEO Elon Musk confirmed the tread is for a new crane they purchased.


There is something exciting about seeing that SpaceX “X” painted on the side of some sort of machinery. Again we have another social media post showing possible new SpaceX hardware but this time much further away from the US.

Spotted by an onlooker driving down Germany’s Autobahn was a black crane tread with the white SpaceX “X” logo painted on the side. Of course, having the “X” spotted in the public is a great way to get the community excited.

There’s no evidence to support this is actual SpaceX hardware but the tread does look like to match the large multi-color crane we saw stack the first full Starship launcher the other week. The proper name for this crane SpaceX has is the LR11350-P1800 crawler crane and is built by Liebherr and sports a 16-meters long tread. Liebherr is based out of Germany and Switzerland which lines up to where this crane was found, heading presumably west on the A2 section of the Autobahn near Magdeburg. The tread could be heading to a port along the North Sea for transit on a ship to the United States.

Possible uses for this tread

The most obvious reason for this tread is that SpaceX has purchased their own LR11350 or similar crane for Starship operations at Starbase. Currently, SpaceX rents their cranes and other heavy equipment for their Starship production. It would make sense eventually SpaceX would want to own the hardware they use.

The other, wilder, idea would be this is a new Starship transporter based on the LR1150 crane platform. Now SpaceX seems to be doing just fine with the modular transporters they have been using since the start but when it comes to speculative plans for SpaceX, anything is possible.

If this is truly SpaceX’s crane transporter then it will take a few weeks to a month for it to be shipped to Brownsville.

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