Featured Image Source: Left-Elon Musk/Right-@ErcXspace via Twitter
The SpaceX South Texas Launch Facility will one day become the ‘Gateway to Mars’ from where the aerospace company’s founder Elon Musk envisions a fleet of Starships launching to colonize the Red Planet. Engineers working at Boca Chica Beach in the Gulf coast have performed multiple flight tests with stainless-steel prototypes of the spacecraft. On Thursday evening, Musk shared the company started to build the first prototype of the Starship Super Heavy booster (BN1). Super Heavy will be the rocket that propels the Starship spacecraft to orbit. “First Super Heavy Booster,” he captioned a photograph on Twitter, pictured below.
First Super Heavy Booster pic.twitter.com/0K5QPsEbbt— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 18, 2021
The 70-meter-tall (230-foot-tall) booster is made out of shiny stainless-steel, it is under assembly inside a giant high-bay at the rocket factory. Musk said that “Booster 1 is a production pathfinder” and they are “figuring out how to build & transport 70 meter tall stage.” The next prototype in the series will be the one to perform a flight test at Boca Chica, “Booster 2 will fly,” he added. Engineers aim to create a fully reusable launch vehicle capable of being reused at least three times a day. Super Heavy must be capable of being rapidly reusable, for that purpose SpaceX will design a launch tower that could quickly catch the booster as it returns from space with a propulsive descent. SpaceX aims to perform the first orbital flight test with the Starship Super Heavy duo this summer, they currently target July 1st. The final version of the Super Heavy rocket will be the most powerful rocket in the world, with 28 methane-fueled Raptor engines it will generate over 16 million pounds of thrust – which is over twice the thrust of the Saturn V rocket that launched the Apollo missions to the lunar surface.
Yes, Booster 1 is a production pathfinder, figuring out how to build & transport 70 meter tall stage. Booster 2 will fly.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 18, 2021
As teams continue to build Booster 1, simultaneously, SpaceX is preparing the Starship SN11 test vehicle at the launch pad, situated a couple of miles down the road from the assembly facility. SN11 is set to perform a high-altitude flight of approximately 10-kilometers. According to Cameron County Texas Boca Chica Beach road closure announcements, SpaceX targets to perform a flight test next week. Before launching, engineers must complete a static-fire of Starship SN11's Raptor engines. The engine ignition test could occur Monday, March 22, and a flight could come later in the week from Wednesday, March 24 to Thursday, March 25, from 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Central Time, per the road closure schedule. However, these dates are subject to change depending on whether the static-fire ignition goes well and if all the vehicles systems are ready for flight. You can watch SpaceX Live Starship launch pad operations 24/7 in the video below, courtesy of LabPadre via YouTube.
WATCH IT LIVE!
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.