SpaceX transported a new Starship prototype to the Starbase launch pad to undergo testing ahead of the first orbital flight test at Boca Chica Beach, Texas. The stainless-steel spacecraft is designated as prototype Serial Number 24 (SN24). On Thursday, May 26, SpaceX rolled out Starship SN24 out the Starbase rocket factory to the launch pad less than 5-miles down the road. It has been around 9 months since a new Starship is transported to the launch pad to undergo pre-flight testing. The company shared a beautiful set of photographs of Starship SN24 on its way to the launchpad, linked below.
Starship 24 rolls out to the pad at Starbase pic.twitter.com/PGh6FY6x8w— SpaceX (@SpaceX) May 27, 2022
SpaceX aims to conduct the debut orbital flight test sometime this year, it is pending regulatory approval. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said it expects to complete the environmental assessment by May 31st, after 11 months of analyzing the potential impacts of the Starbase spaceflight activities on the neighboring wildlife refuge and public beach. Read more: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says SpaceX Starbase activities potential impacts can be mitigated with basic measures –including use of Starlink to monitor animals 24/7. The lengthy environmental assessment has somewhat delayed SpaceX's spaceflight plans, however, the extra time has enabled engineers to improve the prototypes that will be launched to orbit -- Starship SN24 and Super Heavy Booster 7. SpaceX aims to reach orbit this year in order to advance the spacecraft's development to return astronauts to the lunar surface by 2025.
It will be the first time SpaceX launches a fully-stacked launch vehicle with over 3 Raptors. Booster 7 is designed to propel Starship SN24 to orbit with the power of 33 methane-fueled Raptor V2 [version 2] engines. These engines are the newest iteration that feature "more power, less parts." When Super Heavy lifts off it will produce over 12 million pounds of thrust, according to SpaceX founder Elon Musk. "First Starship orbital flight will be with Raptor 2 engines, as they are much more capable & reliable. 230 ton or ~500k lb thrust at sea level," said Musk. The rocket booster already underwent an independent testing campaign at the Starbase launchpad, including a series of cryogenic proof tests. Now, engineers are in the process of installing the 33 Raptor V2s to Booster 7. Once installed, SpaceX is expected to transport the booster back to the launch pad where it will undergo static-fire testing if all engines. In the days ahead, we can expect Starship SN24 to also undergo a cryogenic proof test to assess its structural integrity. You can follow SpaceX Starbase activities LIVE 24/7 in the broadcast below, courtesy of LabPadre via YouTube.
VIDEO: LabPadre 24/7 Starbase Launch Pad Livestream
Featured Image Source: SpaceX