Starbase at Boca Chica Beach in South Texas will one day become SpaceX’s spaceport from where a fleet of Starship launch vehicles will liftoff on a journey to the Moon, Mars, and beyond. The aerospace company is transforming the tiny sandy village to support humanity’s greatest ambition to become a multiplanet species. On Thursday, July 29, SpaceX founder Elon Musk shared that the “SpaceX team is cranking hard” to rapidly build the orbital Starship Super Heavy booster. He shared a photograph of the bottom thrust section of the enormous rocket. “Completing feed system for 29 Raptor rocket engines on Super Heavy Booster,” Musk wrote. The feed system of a liquid rocket engine has plumbing through which propellants are delivered from the vehicles steel fuel tanks to the thrust chamber that connects to the 29 Raptor engines. Raptors are fueled by cryogenic liquid methane and liquid oxygen (CH4 and LOX). The Raptors will also have to be connected to computer systems and sensors - “And that’s just the primary fuel lines! The maze of secondary plumbing & wiring is our greatest concern,” he added. You can see how large Starship's 30-feet-diameter is in the image below, around 23 employees are seen working on the propellant feed system.
Yeah, SpaceX team is cranking hard!— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 29, 2021
And that’s just the primary fuel lines! The maze of secondary plumbing & wiring is our greatest concern.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 29, 2021
The Starship launch vehicle's debut orbital test flight could take place as soon as August. Starship will liftoff from Texas and return from orbit to land in the ocean off the coast of Kauai, Hawaii. A local Texas news station, KVEO Valley Central, reports that hotels surrounding the Boca Chica region are ‘near capacity' because around 500 SpaceX employees have arrived to South Texas to help SpaceX speed up the construction of the launch system and prepare the vehicle for its maiden orbital test flight. A source told KVEO that Musk aims to have Starship and Super Heavy stacked at the launch pad in only 9 days by the first week of August.
Boca Chica Beach, Texas / Image Source: Tesmanian.com
Once teams finish building the vehicles, they will stack Starship ‘SN20’ atop of Super Heavy Booster 4 on the orbital tower launch mount. Engineers will first conduct ground tests to ensure the 394-feet-tall stainless-steel launch vehicle is ready to take flight. It will be the first time engineers test 29 powerful Raptor engines simultaneously, the most a vehicle has flown with are three. The final version of Super Heavy will be equipped with 33 engines. Upon ignition, Raptors can generate over 200 pounds of thrust. When SpaceX ignites all 29 Raptor engines this year, the Starship will become the world’s most powerful rocket in history. The booster will produce over 16 million pounds of thrust – that is twice the thrust of the Saturn V rocket that launched NASA astronauts to the Moon. You can watch a 24/7 Live broadcast of SpaceX Starship development progress in the video below, courtesy of LabPadre via YouTube.
SpaceX Starbase Launch Pad 24/7 Broadcast
Featured Image Source: Elon Musk
About the Author
Evelyn J. Arevalo joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover news as a Space Journalist and SpaceX Starbase Texas Correspondent. Evelyn is specialized in rocketry and space exploration. The main topics she covers are SpaceX and NASA.