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SpaceX posts confirm Starship's Super Heavy Booster will be built in Texas



A duo of SpaceX posts on the company's South Texas facilities have confirmed that both Starship and Super Heavy Flight Article vehicles will initially be produced and mounted on site at Boca Chica, which means that the rocket's first orbital launch attempt will occur in the same vicinity.

Construction of the first massive Super Heavy Booster can begin in Boca Chica within the next few months, presumably progressing like Starship's full-scale jumper prototype. According to CEO Elon Musk, Starhopper hop tests and Super Heavy construction could begin – as early as March and April 2019, perhaps just one or two months from now.

An overview of BFR's booster and spacecraft, now known as Super Heavy and Starship.

Where to build a giant rocket?

"Tank manufacturers will work for build the primary flight route to Starship and Super Heavy Vehicles at the SpaceX South Texas construction site . [They] will work with an elite team from other manufacturers and technicians to quickly build the tank (cylindrical structure), tank bulkheads and other large related structures for the design of the aircraft of both vehicles . " ] – SpaceX, 02/15/19

Posted on February 15, both open positions were centered around structural assembly (ie welding) essential for the construction of the massive fuel tanks, barrel sections and other large structures of Starship and Super Heavy. Following an unexpected stainless steel pivot – instead of advanced carbon composites – as the primary structural material chosen for BFR, the project has been continuously characterized by a flurry of impressive technical development while many previous fundamental aspects became uncertain. 19659002] Mostly, SpaceX seemed to terminate a lease agreement it had had with the Los Angeles port for a large quay that was intended to be developed into a dedicated factory for BFR's massive spacecraft, upper stage and booster, with a diameter of 9m (~ 30 feet) would have been very inconvenient to build a place that was not either on the rocket launch site or directly next to a gate. With its headquarters in Hawthorne, CA (southwestern Los Angeles), SpaceX's first choice was unnecessary LA & # 39; s port, a place that would have allowed its 5000+ local staff to seamlessly transfer to the BFR program without requiring highly disruptive moves. [19659009] Source details are incorrect. Starship & Raptor Development is out of our HQ in Hawthorne, CA. We build starship prototypes locally at our launch site in Texas, as their size makes them very difficult to transport.

– Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 16, 2019

Known as Berth 240, the SpaceXs lease started in March 2018, but was reportedly terminated in January 2019, probably considering the company must leave the premises next month. While an official SpaceX statement and subsequent Elon Musk tweets related to this report worked to partially correct the record and confirmed that "Starship prototypes" would be built locally in South Texas, Super Heavy was never mentioned. SpaceX's latest job record completes the image, indicating that all aspects of the first starship and super high prototypes will be mounted in South Texas.

Weighing only shy of 4.5 million kilograms (10m lbs) of full fuel and standing around 118m 387 ft) high with both phases stacked together, BFR is an animal on a launch car and will require brand new production and assembly methods thanks to the pure scale and the comprehensive integration of stainless steel alloys into the design. Compared to the SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket, which is not small, Super Heavy itself can end up being 68 feet tall, just a little shorter than a complete Falcon 9 with a booster, upper stage and fairing (71m, 233 ft) . Standing on tripods, Starship stands about 55 meters high, although all of these figures can be changed, as they come from a September 2018 SpaceX presentation that happened before Musk published the move to stainless steel.

Probably remain unchanged is the diameter of Starship and Super Heavy: 9m), about 2, 5 times larger than the Falcon 9's booster and upper stage. Even more true of a 9m diameter rocket, also relying on a partial implementation of stainless steel balloon tanks, and transporting Starship and Super Heavy more than a few thousand meters horizontally, will be an extraordinary challenge, even if SpaceXs Boca Chica facilities are conveniently located just a mile or less from the Gulf of Mexico. While the road is completely out of the question, the Saturn V's massive first and second stage booster proved to be relatively easy to transport, thanks to the production plant located right next to a large water source (or a river to get there, in their case [19659015] "[Saturn V’s 33.0 ft (10.1 m) diameter first and second stages] [Saturn V’s 33.0 ft (10.1 m) diameter first and second stages] could be transported with comparative ease via marine vessels [from Michoud, Louisiana to Cape Canaveral, Florida]." – Roger Bilstein / NASA, p. 301

Provided that SpaceX chooses to mount the Super Heavy with the same vertical, outdoor approach, Boca Chica, Texas, will be faced with an even more exotic view than the already impressive progress made with Starship's Starhopper prototype, CEO Elon Musk noted that he believed it The first Super Heavy prototype would begin to be built this spring (as early as April), meanwhile, SpaceX continues to exploit the benefits of stainless steel whenever possible by exploiting companies ts richness of Hawthorne, CA skills and infrastructure for creating sub-units that can easily be sent by road or plane to South Texas. After arriving, Boca Chica-based employees or entrepreneurs can undertake the significantly less infrastructure-intensive end-to-end and integration work, a challenging and critical process, but one that is at least a bit more agnostic.

SpaceX's propulsion stroke continues to test the first full-scale Raptor engine a few hundred miles north of Boca Chica while Starhopper is gradually equipped with a host of avionics, wiring and plumbing needed for the car's jump test debut. It may come as early as March, according to Musk, although further delays would not come as a surprise.


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