On January 14, SpaceX founder & Chief engineer Elon Musk shared the company has plans to build “about five full stacks” of Starship in 2023. The launch vehicle is undergoing development at the Starbase facility located in Boca Chica Beach, Texas. Starship is composed of two stages, a spacecraft that is propelled to orbit by a Super Heavy rocket powered by 33 methane-fueled Raptor V2 engines. When fully stacked, it is 390-feet-high which is taller than the U.S. Statue of Liberty. Starship is destined to become the world’s most powerful fully-reusable rocket.
About five full stacks— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 14, 2023
Engineers are working to perform the first-ever uncrewed orbital flight test this year, which will provide data to speed up Starship’s development. As of today, SpaceX has test flown nine Starships propelled by three Raptor engines on high-altitude flights under 20-kilometers; the company has never flown a fully-stacked vehicle with a Super Heavy rocket booster to space. Starbase teams are building multiple stainless-steel prototypes, each will undergo similar testing. Musk said they aim to manufacture five full-stacks, which means there would be five rockets and five spacecraft lined up for testing throughout 2023.
In 2020, Musk explained that manufacturing multiple Starship test vehicles simultaneously is necessary to speed up its development. “A high production rate solves many ills. If you have a high production rate, you have a high iteration rate. For pretty much any technology whatsoever, the progress is a function of how many iterations do you have, and how much progress do you make between each iteration,” he says, “If you have a high production rate then you have many iterations. You can make progress from one to the next.” Having multiple vehicles ready for testing will enable engineers to rapidly move on to test the next prototype, which is important in case of a failure during testing.
“We have built a production system for Starship, we’re making a lot of ships and boosters,” Musk shared, “We are currently expecting to make a booster and a [Star]ship…initially roughly every couple of months and then, hopefully, by the end of this year one every month,” he said during a TED interview in April 2022. Long-term, Musk has bold ambitions for SpaceX’s Mars colonization plans. He envisions manufacturing 1,000 Starships over the course of 20 years in order to enable a self-sustaining city on the Red Planet before the year 2050. He said the Starbase factory assembly line will eventually be capable of manufacturing a Starship every 72 hours!
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About the Author
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.