SpaceX's Starbase Spaceport Could Have Two Orbital Starship Launch Towers As Soon As 2022

by Evelyn Arevalo November 23, 2021

SpaceX's Starbase Spaceport Could Have Two Orbital Starship Launch Towers As Soon As 2022

Featured Image Source: Renders Created By @ErcXspace via Twitter

SpaceX is working to build the first Starship interplanetary spaceport at Boca Chica, a small sandy beach located in the southernmost tip of Texas along the border with Mexico. The Starbase spaceport features a Starship rocket factory and a launch site that will support humanity’s greatest ambition – expand the scope and scale of consciousness across the Solar System. SpaceX founder Elon Musk hopes to have the first Mars colony up and running in his lifetime. He runs around-the-clock operations at the Texas facility to speed up the spacecraft’s development. 

In 2021 the company made significant progress, it conducted multiple high-altitude Starship flight tests and completed the construction of the first Super Heavy-class launch tower. Musk said that SpaceX’s Starbase spaceport could have two orbital Starship launch towers as soon as 2022. Having a pair of orbital-class launch towers will enable the company to work on two gigantic launch vehicles simultaneously. The 400-foot-tall tower with a 10 feet lightning rod is equipped with giant clamp-like arms, called ‘Mechazilla’, that is designed to stack the 160-foot-tall Starship atop the 230-foot-tall Super Heavy rocket. It will also ‘catch’ the stainless-steel vehicles as each descend to the launch mount soon after propelling payload to orbit. “Starship booster, largest flying object ever designed, will be caught out of sky by launch tower. Big step forward, as reflight can be done in under an hour,” Musk says. 

 

The twin launch towers will set the stage for future cargo missions to the Moon and Mars, enabling the company to conduct back-to-back cargo flights to further develop the launch system in order to ensure it can safely transport humans. Musk expects SpaceX to conduct official payload missions by 2023. The first crewed voyage around the Moon, booked by Japanese entrepreneur Yusaku Maezawa, is also scheduled for 2023. A lunar landing of Artemis NASA astronauts is scheduled until 2025. Next year will be all about testing and iteration of the Starship/Super Heavy launch system, also completing the construction of the launch pad and structures that will support these missions. “We intend to do, hopefully, a dozen launches next year [2022], maybe more... And if we’re successful with it being fully reusable, that means we build up the [Starship] fleet just as we are with the Falcon 9 booster, which is reused,” Musk said at the recent National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (SEM) 183rd Space Studies Board discussion. 

SpaceX told the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), it plans to conduct up to 20 Starship suborbital launches annually, “As the program progresses, SpaceX is proposing to conduct up to five Starship suborbital launches annually. Each launch would include a landing,” the company said. These suborbital tests would enable the company develop the spacecraft before launching crewed flights. The company also proposed “to conduct up to five Starship/Super Heavy orbital launches annually. Starship/Super Heavy missions would include Lunar and Mars missions, satellite payload missions, and the possibility of future human flight to the moon and Mars.”

The company is gearing-up to conduct the first orbital flight in January or February. Engineers are prepping the Super Heavy Booster 4 and Starship SN20 prototypes to attempt a flight to outer space and back. It will be the first time a Super Heavy test vehicle takes on the skies. SpaceX is pending regulatory approval to conduct the orbital flight from the FAA. For the first orbital flight test, engineers will practice concept of operations and attempt to launch Booster 4 from Starbase to orbit where it will drop off Starship SN20 and return with an ocean landing in the Gulf of Mexico. SN20 will continue an orbital flight halfway around Earth until arriving to Hawaii, where it will cross our planet’s rough atmosphere and practice its ‘belly-flop’ flight maneuver to soft-land in the ocean off the northwest coast of Kauai. 

 Featured Image Source: Renders Created By @ErcXspace via Twitter








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