All Images Source: TESMANIAN.com Photographer: Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo @JaneidyEve via Twitter.
SpaceX teams are preparing to launch the next prototype of Starship at the South Texas Launch Facility located in Boca Chica Beach, Brownsville,TX. The facility is rapidly growing, TESMANIAN went to check out the company's construction progress today, October 23rd. As shown in the photographs below, SpaceX is transforming into a rocket factory with gigantic high-bays and vehicle assembly buildings where multiple Starship prototypes are under construction.
SpaceX is also building an outdoor restaurant for employees. The restaurant's roof is made out of a Starship prototype's stainless-steel fins, pictured below. The restaurant's location is less than 2-miles away from the rocket assembly facility and it has an ideal view towards the launch pad. Employees can watch Starship launches from there.
Less than 5-miles away from the assembly facility and future restaurant, is SpaceX's Starship Launch Pad where SpaceX is building the company's first "21st Century Spaceport". The prototype, known as SN8 (serial number eight), is undergoing pre-flight preparations at the launch pad. This week, SpaceX teams installed the top nose cone section to the Starship SN8 vehicle. It will be the first vehicle that will attempt a test flight fully-assembled and powered by three Raptor engines. SN8 features aerodynamic fins that resemble the spacecraft's original design. The fins will be tested for the first time during an upcoming test flight that could take place before this year ends.
If the pre-flight preparations go well, Starship SN8 (pictured above) will be launched 50,000 feet (15 kilometers) above Boca Chica Beach. SpaceX founder Chief Engineer Elon Musk plans to test launch many Starship prototypes to make launching methane-fueled, stainless-steel vehicles routine in South Texas. Each test offers engineers insight towards the development of the new spacecraft. Teams have managed to rapidly manufacture several prototypes, "... That we now have the beginnings of a Starship production system is most meaningful," Musk stated.
Today, Musk shared he will provide a Starship Update Presentation soon, to discuss the spacecraft's development progress and future plans. He will share details of when the presentation will be --"...Probably next week in form of a written piece on SpaceX website," he wrote via Twitter.
Good point. Probably next week in form of a written piece on SpaceX website.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 23, 2020
Starship is under development to make life multiplanetary. --"I think we want to be on track to become a multiplanet species and a spacefaring civilization, in order to [...] ensure the continuance of consciousness as we know it," Musk said during the 2020 Mars Society Convention. "... As far as we know... we could be the only life." Musk envisions a fleet of Starships transporting hundreds of passengers and tons of cargo to colonize Mars. "If the ships from Earth stop coming for any reason, does Mars die out?..." he said. Engineers are working to develop a fully reusable Starship that could be capable of carrying all the resources needed to aid humans' survival on the Red Planet.
SpaceX aims to launch the first Starship test vehicle to space next year. The company is already building an orbital mount at the launch pad, pictured below.
Musk says SpaceX's goal is to get enough people and tonnage to the Martian surface 'as soon as possible', --"Are we creating a city on Mars ... before any possible World War three... [...]" he said during the teleconference early October. He hopes to takes humans to Mars before any nuclear war, asteroid strike, or potential disaster threatens humanity's existence. --"... We need to wake up in the morning and be excited about the future... I think becoming a spacefaring civilization is one of those things everyone can get excited about," Musk stated.
SpaceX is working on an ambitious timeline to develop a space-ready Starship. The company plans to launch the first private space tourists aboard Starship on a mission around the moon in 2023. NASA selected SpaceX to build a Starship Lunar Lander for the agency's Artemis program which aims to send the first woman and next man to the moon's surface in 2024. SpaceX teams already initiated the construction of the first NASA Starship Lunar Lander prototype at Boca Chica. The lunar-optimized vehicle is color white, photo below.
All Images Source: TESMANIAN.com / Photographer: Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo
About the Author
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.