Featured Image Source: Mary @BocaChicaGal via Twitter.
SpaceX ramped up Starship development in South Texas at the assembly facility situated in Boca Chica Beach. The aerospace company has been manufacturing and performing tests on stainless-steel prototypes of the spacecraft this year. Starship will be a massive two-stage launch vehicle consisting of a 9-meter diameter spacecraft and a rocket. The spacecraft will be 50-meters tall capable of carrying 100 passengers and/or over 100 tons of cargo to space destinations. The 70-meter rocket booster, called Super Heavy, will only be used on Earth to propel Starship out of the atmosphere. The company says it will be the most powerful rocket ever built. Teams at Boca Chica are working tirelessly on the development of the spacecraft that will one day change the course of humanity’s future. SpaceX aims to launch a fleet of 1,000 Starships to colonize Mars before the year 2050.
SpaceX is also rapidly building gigantic Vehicle Assembly Buildings (VAB) to manufacture the spacecraft and rocket in a weatherproof environment, pictured below.
Engineers are currently working on a shiny Starship prototype referred to as SN5. It was transported to the launch pad a couple of weeks ago, where it underwent a series of pressurization tests last week. They conducted a cryogenic pressure test of the Starship SN5 prototype at the launch pad on July 1st. The stainless-steel SN5 vehicle was subjected to conditions it would experience during flight. Then on July 4th, SpaceX teams did not slow down during the U.S. Independence Day celebration, they worked and installed a Raptor engine to the Starship SN5 test vehicle.
According to Boca Chica’s county website, SpaceX is preparing to perform vital work on the SN5 test vehicle. The county announced road and beach closures scheduled for next week. SpaceX could conduct a static-fire test of Starship SN5’s Raptor engine as soon as tomorrow, July 10. During the test, engineers will assess the engine’s performance while it is ignited for a few seconds. If the test goes well, the company filed for permission to conduct a 150-meter test flight sometime between July 13 through July 15, from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Central Time (all times are subject to change). * Update: Testing will take place no earlier than Monday, July 13. Launch day delayed. *
Yesterday, July 8th, a Boca Chica resident captured video of SpaceX’s robot dog ‘Zeus’ out at the launch pad near its red pet house (video below). Zeus, is an advanced robot tool by Boston Dynamics, capable of collecting a variety of data. The exact purpose of the role ‘Zeus’ has at SpaceX has not yet been revealed; the Boston Dynamics website details several uses for the robodog. Some of the features that can be useful are: 360° panoramic cameras to keep the launchpad supervised, noise anomaly detection, thermal inspection, and leak detection. It can be used to inspect Starship prototypes during tests. Several Starship prototypes have leaked during cryogenic pressurization tests, causing the entire stainless-steel structure to implode. The robot will be ideal to detect leaks up close, which can otherwise be dangerous for a human to approach and inspect soon after testing.
WATCH SPACEX'S ROBOT DOG!
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.