The possibility of extending life to Mars looks closer than ever in South Texas, where the small Boca Chica Beach village is transforming into SpaceX’s Starbase spaceport. The aerospace company is taking on the challenge to develop a reusable spacecraft to enable humanity to build a sustainable city on the Red Planet before 2050. To achieve this, SpaceX founder Chief Engineer Elon Musk expects the company to manufacture a fleet of 1,000 Starships within the next 20 years at the Starbase production factory. He aims to have the Starship launch system ready for operational missions in less than three years. Japanese Entrepreneur Yusaku Maezawa booked the first civilian voyage around the Moon, scheduled for the year 2023.
Starship on the orbital launch pad pic.twitter.com/7p02cgNnUA— SpaceX (@SpaceX) August 6, 2021
Today, August 6, SpaceX stacked Starship atop a Super Heavy rocket at the Starbase launch pad for the first time. The 394-foot-tall vehicle is the world’s largest rocket, taller than the Statue of Liberty. Musk shared stunning photographs of the enormous rocket via Twitter and said that it is a “Dream come true” to see the vehicle he designed finally stacked. “An honor to work with such a great team,” Musk wrote. The Super Heavy booster is equipped with 29 methane-burning Raptor engines that will turn it into the most powerful rocket in the world once the vehicle becomes operational.
An honor to work with such a great team— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 6, 2021
Dream come true— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 6, 2021
SpaceX employees cheered with excitement to see their hard work take shape. To celebrate the first stacking operation they played music at the launch pad through a loud speaker – “Starships” by Nicki Minaj, as well as “Fly me to the moon” by Frank Sinatra, according to local residents who captured a short video clip of the music, shown below.
Jamming out to some music courtesy of the SpaceX public address speakers at the launch site!!! @elonmusk @JaneidyEve @FLsunshine4me2 @Erdayastronaut @GreatSpaceXXX94 @mayemusk pic.twitter.com/R7hzW45y7R— Daniel Sanchez Photography (@Daniel_S_Images) August 6, 2021
SpaceX is preparing to conduct its debut orbital Starship test flight. This morning’s stacking operation was a ‘fit test’, the spacecraft was unstacked this afternoon to continue pre-flight preparations at the assembly facility, which is located less than 3-miles down Highway 4 road at Boca Chica. A TESMANIAN correspondent arrived to Starbase when Starship was unstacked. The road was cleared by Cameron County Sheriff as the Starship SN20 vehicle was transported to the assembly facility, pictured below.
Starship SN20 escorted by Cameron County Sheriff down Highway 4 on August 6, 2021. / Images Source: Tesmanian.com Evelyn Arevalo @JaneidyEve via Twitter
Before starting to conduct ground tests, Musk shared they must complete “4 significant items” which include, installing the “Final heat shield tiles for ship.” He said that the Starship SN20's heat shield installation "is ~98% done, but the remaining tiles are unique shapes requiring machining." They will also add “Thermal protection of booster engines,” complete work on the “Ground propellant storage tanks,” and add a QD [quick disconnect] arm for ship.” The arm will be integrated to the newly-built orbital launch tower that is roughly 400-feet-high. Musk expects that they will take 2 weeks to complete this work. Once completed, SpaceX will proceed to conduct testing at the launch pad. The test campaign is expected to initiate with a series of proof tests to ensure the stainless-steel vehicle is strong enough to withstand the stresses of an orbital flight. If the pre-flight ground tests go well and SpaceX obtains approval from regulatory agencies, Super Heavy (Booster 4) will propel Starship (SN20) to orbit from Texas and they will attempt to land Starship in the ocean off the northwest coast of Kauai, Hawaii.
4 significant items:— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 6, 2021
- Final heat shield tiles for ship
- Thermal protection of booster engines
- Ground propellant storage tanks
- QD arm for ship
Starship was unstacked to undergo more preparations ahead of debut orbital flight test. I arrived at Starbase when SN20 was on its way to the assembly facility this afternoon.— Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo (@JaneidyEve) August 6, 2021
Its impressive to see SpaceX has achieved building so much in such a short period of time. pic.twitter.com/6YQGRJnlv3
#SpaceX #Tesla @vincent13031925 @Tesmanian_com— Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo (@JaneidyEve) August 7, 2021
Super Heavy Booster 4 has four grid fins that weigh ~3 tonnes, they are electrically powered & use a modified Tesla Model 3 motor to drive them. pic.twitter.com/Cp2uwYWhZW
Featured Image Source: SpaceX Elon Musk
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.