SpaceX President says Starship's orbital flight could happen this Summer, Super Heavy Booster arrives to the launch pad for more testing after damage repair

SpaceX President says Starship's orbital flight could happen this Summer, Super Heavy Booster arrives to the launch pad for more testing after damage repair

Featured Image Source: @LabPadre via Twitter & YouTube 

On May 5th, SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell shared at an engineering conference that Starship could fly to orbit as soon as this Summer. Engineers at Starbase are preparing stainless-steel prototypes Super Heavy Booster 7 and Starship SN24 for the debut orbital flight test in South Texas. The company has not launched any Starship prototype in roughly 11 months since the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) initiated an environmental assessment of the Starbase launch site to ensure safe spaceflight activities at Boca Chica Beach that neighbors a U.S. National Wildlife Refuge. After four delays, the FAA aims to complete its review by May 31st. 

In the meantime, SpaceX teams continue to conduct ground tests of all systems that will be used during the upcoming orbital flight. They already performed multiple tests of the Booster 7 vehicle and also ‘Stage Zero,’ which includes all the launchpad’s infrastructures like the Orbital Tank Farm (OTF), the launch tower, arms, and mount, as well as the plumbing that feeds fuel to the spacecraft with a Quick Disconnect (QD) arm. Most recently, teams transported Super Heavy Booster 7 back to the launch pad after fixing an internal structure that got damaged during the first test campaign last month. Booster 7 is the first that will be equipped with 33 methane-fueled Raptor V2 engines. The most Raptors SpaceX has tested in-flight simultaneously is three. The booster got damaged when engineers performed a test to test the booster’s structural integrity using hydraulic rams to simulate the thrust it will experience when its engines are ignited. A photograph was leaked by an anonymous source that shows Booster 7’s internal damage on the liquid methane fuel transfer tube that goes through an oxygen header tank at the booster’s base to fuel the Raptors, shown below. 

The damage was fixed over the past couple of weeks and Booster 7 was transported to the launch pad on Friday, May 6. Space enthusiasts captured a stunning video of the gigantic rocket transported to the launch pad, pictured below. According to Cameron County’s Boca Chica Beach road closure announcements, SpaceX plans to conduct Booster 7 testing as soon as today, May 9. Additional testing dates are May 10 through May 13 from 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. Central Time. PWatch SpaceX operations 24/7 via LabPadre’s livestream via YouTube video linked below. 

VIDEO: LabPadre Weekly Update via YouTube


 Featured Image Source: @LabPadre via Twitter & YouTube

About the Author

Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo

Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo

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.

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