SpaceX Stacks Final Steel Truss Section Of Starship Launch Tower As It Prepares For Debut Orbital Flight Test

SpaceX Stacks Final Steel Truss Section Of Starship Launch Tower As It Prepares For Debut Orbital Flight Test

Featured Image Source: @LabPadre via Twitter & YouTube

Today, July 28, SpaceX stacked the final steel truss section of the Starship launch tower at Boca Chica beach as the company prepares for a debut orbital flight test. The stacking operation was filmed by LabPadre’s on-site live cameras that broadcast 24/7 launch pad operations via YouTube, video below. The giant orbital launch tower will be capable of supporting Starship atop the Super Heavy rocket booster. Together, the duo will stand 394-feet-high! According to a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) filing by the company, the tower is 469-feet-tall and will include a 10-feet lightning rod. The launch tower will help SpaceX lift Starship above Super Heavy on the launch mount, as well as catch the booster as it returns from space. They plan to add mechanical arms to the launch tower to catch boosters by its grid fins. SpaceX founder Elon Musk congratulated employees for the rapid construction of the launch tower framework. – “Congrats SpaceX tower team & supporting contractors!” he wrote in a Tweet.

SpaceX targets to conduct the first full-stack orbital flight test this Summer. It looks like the company is on track to launch the vehicle before this year ends as the launch tower nears completion. Engineers are already building the Starship vehicle and booster prototype that will launch to orbit. During the debut orbital flight test, Super Heavy will propel Starship to orbit from Starbase, Texas. Soon after deploying it, the booster will return to land in the Gulf Coast as Starship continues its voyage across Earth; It will fly over the ocean along the Florida Straits and land in the ocean off the northwest coast of Kauai in Hawaii. The ambitious debut orbital flight test will last approximately 90-minutes. SpaceX says the test will enable engineers “to collect as much data as possible during flight to quantify entry dynamics and better understand what the vehicle experiences in a flight regime that is extremely difficult to accurately predict or replicate computationally,” the company stated. “This data will anchor any changes in vehicle design or CONOPs [concept of operations] after the first flight and build better models for us to use in our internal simulations.”

 Source: / @JaneidyEve via Twitter 

Engineers already conducted ground tests on Booster 3, a Super Heavy prototype that is currently at the launch pad. Booster 3 underwent a cryogenic proof test and a static-firing of three methane-fueled Raptor engines. The testing enables them to assess the vehicle’s structural integrity and engine performance. “Depending on progress with Booster 4, we might try a 9 engine firing on Booster,” Musk said last week. Booster 4 will fly to orbit and could possibly be equipped with over 29 Raptor engines. The final version of the launch vehicle will have 33 engines. The booster is under assembly inside the rocket factory’s high bay. The high bay will feature a restaurant bar at the very top with a 360-degree-view of the Starbase facility. Construction workers already started to install the window panels, pictured above. This week, Musk shared that that they will build another high bay to support the assembly of the spacecraft. “Construction starts soon on a much larger high bay just north of current high bay,” he said. SpaceX teams are also actively building Starship SN20 inside the mid bay, it will be the vehicle that will conduct the flight attempt to orbit, pictured below.


Watch LabPadre's 24/7 SpaceX Starbase Livestream! 



Featured Image Source: @LabPadre via Twitter & YouTube 

About the Author

Evelyn Arevalo

Evelyn 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.

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