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The South Texas Boca Chica beach village will one day become SpaceX’s spaceport from where massive Starship launch vehicles will liftoff on a journey to the Moon, Mars, and beyond. The aerospace company is rapidly transforming the tiny village into a rocket factory and launch site that will support humanity’s greatest ambition to become a multiplanetary species. The launch site started to look like a welcoming spaceport as a 'Starbase' sign was installed in giant bold letters this weekend. The company placed the new sign outside its facility along State Highway 4, the public road that leads to the beach. SpaceX founder Elon Musk said earlier this year that he would like to rename the small village Starbase, Texas. On Saturday night the ‘Starbase’ sign was lit up for the first time as SpaceX employees and local residents viewed with excitement for what the future holds, video below. The sign appears to be powered by solar panels attached above the black fencing.
Today, Sunday, May 16, a TESMANIAN correspondent (@JaneidyEve) visited the Gulf Coast to see SpaceX’s progress and captured a collection of photos, shown below. The facility is growing rapidly and there’s a lot of things under construction simultaneously, from high building structures to launch towers, and shiny stainless-steel Starship tanks. SpaceX runs around-the-clock operations to accomplish its out-of-this-world objectives. Teams recently lifted Starship SN15 on a launch mount, indicating engineers will begin assessing if the vehicle can fly a second time. SN15 soared 10-kilometers into the sky on May 5th during its first high-altitude flight test in which it completed all its flight requirements nominally, including acing the landing without exploding like four of its predecessors. Soon after completing what appeared to be an incredible flawless flight, Musk said –“Might try to refly SN15 soon.”
Starship SN15 / All Images Source: Tesmanian.com
Now at the launch mount, Starship SN15 will undergo an assessment to determine if the vehicle can be launched a second time. Engineers are expected to conduct a series of pre-flight tests in the weeks ahead. Today, workers appeared to work on the vehicle’s Starlink dish antenna that is attached to it's side, which connects to SpaceX’s broadband internet network (pictured below). Simultaneously, teams are assembling the next prototype of the spacecraft, Starship SN16, inside a high-bay. SN16 will also conduct a flight this year, possibly at 20-kilometers –a much higher altitude than SN15. By this Summer, SpaceX aims to launch the first Starship to orbit. According to a recent filing with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), SpaceX plans to launch the first orbital Starship flight from Texas to Hawaii! The company’s plans were outlined in the document, read TESMANIAN previous article: SpaceX Plans To Fly Starship From Texas To Hawaii During First Orbital Flight
SpaceX Engineers appear to be working on Starlink Dish attachment.
All Images Source: Tesmanian.com
Starship SN16 inside high bay at SpaceX Starbase rocket factory.
To conduct an orbital flight, Starship will require a Super Heavy rocket booster to propel it to orbit. The first prototype of the booster is already under development and will be tested before an orbital flight test. The 230-foot-tall rocket will need a massive orbital launch tower to lift off from. There is ongoing construction at the Orbital Launch Site less than 5-miles down the road from the rocket assembly facility. Starship SN15 currently stands on a mount next to the initial construction of what will be an enormous orbital-class launch tower, pictured below. So far, SpaceX is on track to meet its objectives. NASA awarded the company a contract to develop a lunar-optimized Starship to land astronauts on the Moon by 2024. There is a mockup of the NASA Starship Lunar Lander at SpaceX's facility, pictured below. Musk hopes to have a space-ready Starship to send the first Starship with cargo to Mars as soon as 2022 or 2024, years when the Red Planet’s orbit is closer to Earth.
All Images Source: Tesmanian.com
Author's note: Thanks for supporting TESMANIAN! Twitter: Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo
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.