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-   -   SpaceX flight testing in South Texas (https://www.pprune.org/space-flight-operations/637604-spacex-flight-testing-south-texas.html)

ORAC 7th Aug 2021 19:18

Reminiscent of the photos from the days of the building of the Empire State Building or Golden Gate Bridge - and the true scale of what they are putting together.

The Starship and heavy lifter will weight over 5000 tons during launch…


TURIN 8th Aug 2021 12:23

Part two of Tim Dodd's exclusive behind the scenes tour.

ORAC 10th Aug 2021 13:51

Looks like others find that photo evocative as well.


One of the comments ask if a high definition copy of the photo is available as wall art - if agree and buy one if available - the start of a new era in space.

ORAC 13th Aug 2021 07:07


SpaceX’s first orbital-class Starship and Super Heavy to return to launch pad next week

TURIN 14th Aug 2021 01:50

Ship 20 rolled back out to the test area today. No engines fitted though.

ORAC 18th Aug 2021 11:59

ORAC 24th Aug 2021 13:58

An interesting article, well worth reading in full….


SpaceX to put custom Starship propellant storage tanks through first trial

In the latest twist in the saga of SpaceX’s custom-built Starship launch pad propellant storage tanks, the company appears to have retroactively decided to build small prototype meant solely for testing.

Known as a ‘test tank,’ the relatively small steel structure was fairly rapidly assembled from parts of an older Ground Support Equipment (GSE) tank scrapped in July over the last week or so.

SpaceX completed the first Starship-derived propellant storage tank in April 2021 and rapidly rolled that tank (GSE1) and a second (GSE2) from the build site to the orbital launch pad just a few weeks apart. Less than a month after that, SpaceX also completed GSE tank #3, though things seemingly devolved into chaos immediately thereafter.

Only three months later would GSE3 finally be transported to – and installed on a concrete mount at – Starship’s first orbital launch site, and only after a number of structural modifications and in the footsteps of GSE tanks #5 and #6.

Little is known about why SpaceX’s custom GSE tank production faltered so soon after it began, why none of the five Starship-sized tanks installed at the orbital pad have been fully plumbed or subjected to any kind of testing, or why structural modifications were seemingly required after the fact. However, it’s safe to say that SpaceX’s brand new GSE ‘test tank’ is now at the center of the mystery……..

ORAC 24th Aug 2021 21:02

A Tunnel to the Moon

SpaceX may dig a tunnel to enable frequent South Texas launches

ORAC 1st Sep 2021 07:33

Depressing forecast here is that the FAA might take 6-12 months to give clearance for the first test flight.


SpaceX’s second Super Heavy booster might land in Mechazilla’s arms

ORAC 6th Sep 2021 16:05


SpaceX repairing heat shield, reinstalling Raptors on first orbital-class Starship

ORAC 8th Sep 2021 18:50


SpaceX’s first orbital-class Super Heavy booster rejoins Starship at the launch pad

For the second time in five weeks, SpaceX has rolled Starship’s first orbital-class Super Heavy booster from its Starbase factory to the launch pad ahead of a challenging and multifaceted test campaign.

Deemed Super Heavy Booster 4 or B4, the 69m (~225 ft) tall rocket first rolled to the launch pad around August 3rd after SpaceX technicians fitted it with 29 Raptor engines in a single night. Followed by orbital-class Starship prototype S20 a few days later, the two stages of a Starship were stacked to their full height on August 6th, briefly creating the largest rocket ever assembled. Ship 20 was then quickly returned to the build site, where SpaceX workers completed an additional ~10 days of finishing touches – mainly focused on avionics wiring and secondary plumbing.

A week later, Booster 4 followed Ship 20 back to Starbase’s ‘high bay,’ where teams ultimately removed all 29 of its Raptor engines and spent the next four or so weeks performing similar final integration work. Now, after installing what looks like hundreds of feet of wiring, dozens of additional gas and fluid lines, compressed gas tanks, hydraulic ‘sleds’ SpaceX’s first flightworthy Super Heavy has once again returned to the launch site

A bit less than two weeks ago, SpaceX once again installed 29 Raptors on Booster 4. This time around, though, all of those engines are believed to be ready for flight – or, at minimum, static fire testing – after completing qualification testing at SpaceX’s Central Texas development facilities. Intriguingly, every one of Super Heavy’s outer ring of 20 ‘Raptor Boost’ engines is also expected to have its own small umbilical panel that will connect to the orbital launch pad’s ground systems.

When Booster 4 was installed on the brand new orbital launch mount, most of those individual engine connectors had yet to be installed and it’s unclear if SpaceX was actually able to test the complex mechanisms before Super Heavy returned to the build site. This time, all 20 engine umbilical actuators have been installed on the launch mount and it’s safe to assume that those mechanisms will be tested extensively in the coming weeks.

That testing will be part of a much more involved test campaign. Namely, if SpaceX intends to test Super Heavy Booster 4 at the orbital launch site, any booster testing will simultaneously require the shakedown of the orbital pad’s extensive, custom-built tank farm and a wide range of other ground infrastructure that simply didn’t exist at the start of 2021.

Booster 4 qualification is no less daunting, as no Super Heavy has ever been fully tested. Now in the midst of being scrapped in place at SpaceX’s suborbital test facilities, Super Heavy Booster 3
didcomplete a partial cryogenic proof test and a static fire with three Raptor engines, but SpaceX has never fully filled a Super Heavy with >3000 tons (~6.6M lb) of propellant and never static fired more than three Raptor engines simultaneously.

Perhaps the most uncertain part of Super Heavy Booster 4 qualification is its static fire test campaign. However SpaceX gets there, the final challenge will likely be igniting all 29 of B4’s Raptor engines – potentially producing up to ~5400 tons (11.9M lbf) of thrust, thus making Super Heavy the most powerful rocket booster ever tested.

Simultaneously, SpaceX also began reinstalling Raptors on Ship 20 – currently installed at Suborbital Pad B – ahead of the Starship’s first proof test(s) and static fire(s). Stay tuned for updates on SpaceX’s plans for testing the first orbital-class Starship and Super Heavy booster.

TURIN 9th Sep 2021 11:54

I wonder if those umbilical lines are to test each engine individually? Maybe a static sequential firing. I can't imagine firing all 29 even for a few seconds will be an option. Once they're all up to full power they're going to have to let it go surely.

ORAC 10th Sep 2021 21:06

ORAC 16th Sep 2021 20:51

I still don’t think most people understand the scale of what Musk is planning….


New Raptor Factory under construction at SpaceX McGregor amid continued engine testing

…..However, Elon Musk has recently announced that a new production plant will be built near the McGregor engine testing facility. This plant will specifically produce Raptor 2 engines optimized for firing at sea level, most of which will be used on Super Heavy boosters.

The Raptor 2 is a future version of the engine soon to enter testing, and the factory will be capable of making 2 to 4 of these engines per day.

This production rate is higher than a typical rocket factory, but low compared to an automobile factory. As Elon stated in a tweet: “It [the factory] will be the highest output & most advanced rocket engine factory in the world.”

He believes it will be needed to support high-cadence Super Heavy operations, including many flights to Mars related to the build-out of the planned Martian city…..

The McGregor facility also now has a new test stand for Raptors that will allow up to one test firing per day, possibly up to two per day, of the sea-level engines…..

While engine testing has continued apace, the new sea-level Raptor assembly plant has started foundation work, with groundbreaking taking place and work on the superstructure expected to be finished by the end of the year.…..

Testing activities will also support future Starship missions such as Starlink 2.0 flights, Yusaku Maezawa’s Dear Moon crewed lunar mission, the two demonstration
HLS missions to the Moon on Lunar Starship, and Starship missions to build out Elon Musk’s planned city on Mars — which could be home to up to a million people by 2050.……

ORAC 17th Sep 2021 18:59

ORAC 20th Sep 2021 08:19


FAA releases draft environmental report on SpaceX Starship orbital launches

Less Hair 20th Sep 2021 08:36

What will future space mining do to the space environment and to earth? This is what it all seems to be about. Can companies commercially mine stars or asteroids and bring exotic stuff to earth?

Ninthace 20th Sep 2021 08:58

Originally Posted by Less Hair (Post 11113858)
What will future space mining do to the space environment and to earth? This is what it all seems to be about. Can companies commercially mine stars or asteroids and bring exotic stuff to earth?

Mining asteroids, fair enough. Mining stars might require a decent set of oven gloves and a very very long shovel.

ORAC 24th Sep 2021 14:37


SpaceX installs Mechazilla ‘claw’ on Starship launch tower


Anti-SpaceX lobbying campaign casts new light on Elon Musk's Biden beef

ORAC 28th Sep 2021 07:24

Interesting times….


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