Featured Image Source: LabPadre via YouTube
SpaceX is building the first prototypes of Starship, their next-generation spacecraft, at their assembly facility at Boca Chica Beach in Brownsville, Texas. Starship will be a massive rocket-ship duo. It will utilize a Super Heavy rocket booster to cross Earth's atmosphere powered by 37 Raptor engines. The rocket will return to Earth from space landing vertically on a nearby launch pad in order to be reused again. Starship will be able to cruise through space solely powered by it's 6 Raptor engine thrusters. The craft will be fully reusable capable of carrying 100 passengers and over 100 tons of cargo to the Moon and Mars. Starship will be the most powerful rocket ever built!
There used to be a friendly space race between SpaceX Cocoa in Florida and SpaceX Boca Chica last year, to see which engineering team would be first to develop a fully assembled Starship and conduct a debut flight. Now, SpaceX temporarily paused their Starship assembly work in Florida, and are in the process of sending equipment to speed up the construction of Starship at Boca Chica. SpaceX teams in Florida will focus on building a new launch mount on historic Pad 39A, that they are currently leasing from NASA. This pad was the same one astronauts used during the Apollo Moon missions. They plan to accommodate the site to fit a Starship with it's giant Super Heavy rocket.
A Go Discovery ship has made a couple of hardware shipments from Florida's space coast to South Texas near the border of Mexico. The GO Discovery ship is 36 feet wide and 170 feet long, the bottom sits in 12 feet deep as it navigates, so it can certainly carry large heavy equipment needed to assemble Starship. The first shipment took place on December 3, 2019. GO Discovery left Port Canaveral in Florida and arrived to the Port of Brownsville, Texas on December 8. The delivery aboard Go Discovery's deck was a stainless steel bulkhead dome, also two metal stands used to aid in the construction of the craft.
On January 4, the ship was back at Port Canaveral where it was loaded with more Starship hardware and other equipment. Then the ship awaited bad weather conditions at Port Everglades, Florida until conditions in the Gulf of Mexico improved. Go Discovery arrived to Brownsville yesterday, January 16 (video above). The equipment that was delivered included: metal plating, a Conex shipping container, another large construction stand, a rig used to support a bulkhead dome during fabrication, among other hardware.
SpaceX Boca Chica teams are currently building the first flight design version of Starship V1.0 known as SN1. Starship SN1 is expected to be completed sometime in March to conduct its debut test flight. The company aims to build at least 20 Starship crafts of this V1.0 design, each featuring slight changes needed to improve the craft. Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX explained:
"We’re now building flight design of Starship SN1, but each SN will have at least minor improvements, at least through SN20 or so of Starship V1.0."
Flight is hopefully 2 to 3 months away— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 28, 2019
Each change will be made based on what works best during the manufacturing and testing process. Now that new hardware has arrived to Boca Chica, work pace will continue to pick up. We can already see some of Starship's stainless-steel rings beginning to be stacked (live video above).