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Starship SN3 is under assembly inside a new building at SpaceX South Texas

by Evelyn Arevalo March 26, 2020

Starship SN3 is under assembly inside a new building at SpaceX South Texas

Featured Image Source: Elon Musk

SpaceX envisions a future civilization capable of conducting frequent flights to the moon and Mars aboard Starship. The rocket company runs 24/7 operations to make that vision a reality, and offers free hot meals to all its employees who are in the process of developing a massive stainless-steel Starship prototype at the SpaceX facility located in Brownsville, Boca Chica Beach, Texas. Elon Musk, founder and chief engineer at SpaceX, shared a set of photographs showcasing significant manufacturing progress of the Starship SN3 vehicle that is expected to conduct a high-altitude test flight of 20 kilometers. This iteration will undergo static-fire tests and short flights. It will be the first full-size Starship prototype to take flight. He said that the next prototype, "SN4," will complete longer flights. Musk previously said that in order to improve the craft's weld quality it needed to be manufactured in an indoor environment. Construction crews finished a Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at Boca Chica, where Starship SN3 is undergoing preparations ahead of its first pressurization test. According to the city's website, Boca Chica will have several road closures starting on March 27 from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. CST (local time). Road closures symbolize that SpaceX teams are ready to conduct vital work that may involve moving the Starship SN3 vehicle to the nearby launch pad, a couple miles down the road from the assembly site. Additional road closures are scheduled for April 1 through 8 from 9 p.m. to 11:59 p.m. CST.



SpaceX is currently hiring in South Texas, there are about 60 open job positions in the company's website. SpaceX is searching for skilled welders to help in Starship production. Musk said that manufacturing a production line of Starship and creating a factory will enable the rocket company to speed up the spacecraft's development. "A high production rate solves many ills. If you have a high production rate, you have a high iteration rate." Musk explained, "For pretty much any technology whatsoever, the progress is a function of how many iterations do you have, and how much progress do you make between each iteration. If you have a high production rate then you have many iterations. You can make progress from one to the next."  The assembly site at Boca Chica is beginning an assembly line, SpaceX aims to eventually build at least one Starship each week. They will design a rocket production factory to eventually manufacture a Starship every 72 hours! Engineers are developing Starship with reusability in mind. "The design goal for Starship is three flights per day on average [per ship], which equates to roughly 1,000 flights per year at greater than 100 tons per flight. This means every 10 ships would yield 1 megaton per year to orbit," Jessica Anderson, a manufacturing engineer, explained last week during the broadcast of a SpaceX mission that launched Starlink satellites into orbit.

 




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