SpaceX is building a Starship launch tower at Launch Pad-39A, NASA is assessing potential operation impacts

SpaceX is building a Starship launch tower at Launch Pad-39A, NASA is assessing potential operation impacts

Featured Image Source: Created by @ErcXspace via Twitter

SpaceX is developing Starship at its Starbase facility located in Boca Chica Beach, Texas. The company started to build a second facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, from where astronauts are expected to lift off on a voyage to the Moon. NASA is assessing potential Starship operation impacts on Launch Pad 39-A from where Falcon 9 launches astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) aboard SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft. The Starship orbital launch tower is under construction next to Pad-39A. 

NASA awarded a contract to SpaceX to develop a lunar-optimized Starship Human Landing System (HLS) to land astronauts on the Moon by 2025 as part of the Artemis program that aims to build a permanent lunar base. The Artemis HLS is planned to launch from Pad-39A, however, NASA's head of human spaceflight Kathy Lueders shared that the agency worries about the potential damage that a failed Starship launch could cause to Launch Pad-39A, which is the only launchpad that has an access arm and all necessary equipment to support crewed launches to ISS. "We all recognize that if you had an early failure like we did on one of the early SpaceX flights, it would be pretty devastating to 39A," Lueders told Reuters reporters, in reference to a 2016 Falcon 9 launch during which the rocket exploded and damaged Launch Pad-40 at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.

"In the coming weeks, NASA and SpaceX will conduct a thorough review to ensure safe operations at the pad and assess redundant launch capabilities for NASA crewed and cargo missions to the International Space Station," said NASA representatives. "As part of the review, NASA and SpaceX are assessing all options available including the development of a crew transportation capability at Space Launch Complex-40 on Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida."

Starship is the world's largest and most powerful rocket ever built, consisting of a 230-foot-tall Super Heavy rocket and a 164-foot-tall spacecraft. The launch system will be capable of generating over 16 million pounds of thrust at liftoff powered by 33 methane-burning Raptor engines. Engineers are actively preparing to conduct a debut orbital flight test in South Texas. This week SpaceX shared photos of the stainless-steel prototypes that will be tested, identified as Starship SN24 and Booster 7 (linked below). 



Featured Image Source: Created by @ErcXspace via Twitter

About the Author

Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo

Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo

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.

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