Featured Image Source: SPadre/@SpacePadreIsle via Twitter
SpaceX teams have made rapid progress on the construction of their first Starship SN1 flight vehicle prototype that will conduct a 20 kilometer test flight above Boca Chica Beach in Brownsville, Texas. Early morning (February 25), the stainless-steel test vehicle was transported to a nearby launch pad located about 2 miles away from the SpaceX assembly facility, where it will liftoff from sometime after March 16. Engineers are still building Starship SN1 and integrating vital components ahead of conducting further pre-flight preparation tests that could include a pressurization test. Teams will also attach a Raptor engine at the bottom of SN1 to conduct a static-fire test at the launch pad. Raptor engines are powered by cryogenic methane and liquid oxygen. A static -firing involves the brief ignition of the engines to asses if they are working in optimal conditions before performing their first flight.
Boca Chica residents shared video and photos of Starship SN1 transported to the launch pad. SpaceX teams have been working 24/7 operations to prepare Starship SN1 for its first flight. Early February, the company held a job fair event that aimed to find talented individuals who possess fabrication skills, including welding stainless-steel, in order to speed up production. The city's website announced Boca Chica beach road closures, which usually means SpaceX will conduct vital assembly and/or testing work on the Starship SN1 vehicle. The road closures are scheduled for: today, February 25 from 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. CST. and another closure on Thursday, February 27 from 7:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. CST. (local time). The planned road and beach closures also include back-up dates February 28 7:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. also February 29 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. CST.
After conducting SN1's first test flight, SpaceX will begin the construction of SN2 and SN3. The rocket company plans to build at least 20 flight prototypes of Starship at Boca Chica in order to test different features that will pave the way towards figuring out how to improve Starship's design and capabilities. The founder and Chief Engineer of SpaceX Elon Musk, recently said: "Building many rockets allows for successive approximation. Applying a simple equation to the process: progress in any given technology is the number of iterations multiplied by progress between iterations." SpaceX aims to eventually build two Starships per week, for $5 million each. The company will create more jobs in the area to achieve that high production scale.
High bay for stacking Starship engine bay, propellant tanks & fairing (fka nosecone) sections is almost done! pic.twitter.com/G9h0430ns2— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 20, 2020
Musk shared that teams are actively building a stainless-steel nosecone that will make up the top portion of the Starship SN1 test vehicle. The company is hoping to have the entire vehicle fully assembled by the end of February or early March. A massive Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) is also actively under construction, Musk shared a video last week of the building that will also serve to protect spacecraft during hurricane season (video above).