The huge rocket stage SpaceX Super Heavy is find now on the company’s launch pad at South Texas, to waiting for a series of tests and final checks. The company is eager to launch a fully stacked Starship rocket for a test flight starting in July, but a number of regulatory hurdles still stand in the way.
The prototype known as Booster 7 was transported to the Starbase launch site last week for its third and possibly final trip. In a process that lasted from June 23 to 24, the B7 was raised to the Orbital Launch Mount with a pair of mechanical arms known as chopsticks”, as revealed by the images by NASASpaceflight. The booster 7 is important because it is the first ready-to-fly stage of the Starship Super Heavy system.
The driving stagewith its 33 Raptor engines, is preparing pnow testsSpaceX’s at the Boca Chica facilities in Texas before his first orbital test flightfor which a second Starship stage, or orbital stage, will be stacked on top and launched into space. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk recently claimed that the Starship will be ready for its test flight next monthbut the company must still comply with some pending regulatory requirements related to the expansion of its facilities in Boca Chica.
The Starship is composed by a Super Heavy first stage and a Starship second stage, which has already undergone a series of flight tests (but has not traveled to the space). Both stages have been designed to perform vertical landings for the purpose of reuse. However, for the Starship’s first orbital test flight, both stages will make splashdowns in the ocean. The propellant will perform a partial return and will splash down in the Gulf of Mexico and the ship will perform a splashdown off the northwest coast of Kauai, in Hawaii. Over timethe upper stage will land on its own (what has already been done before), while the booster will return to the launch site and perform a assisted landing on the platform; arms on the launch tower will catch the stage in flight. Well, in theory.
This specific prototype, Booster 7, moved for the first time to the launch pad in March and successfully completed two cryogenic tests, but was later severely damaged during a structural stress test, according to Teslarati. The propellant was carried to the factory for repair before rolling onto the rig for a second time in May, completing a third cryogenic test. Subsequently, the Super Heavy spent about six weeks in the factory before its most recent date with the launch pad.
It’s not yet clear what kind of tests Booster 7 will undergo on the launch pad or if SpaceX plans to conduct a full wet dress rehearsal, which involves loading the rocket with fuel and doing a simulated countdown to liftoff. For now, the prototype rocket sits on top of the launch pad, supported by two giant arms attached to the launch tower, awaiting its destination.
When stacked one on top of the other, those components create the tallest rocket in the worldwith a height of 120 meters. The rocket is designed to carry cargo and dozens of passengers to the Moon and other destinations in the Solar System such as Mars.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recently authorized SpaceX to expand its operationsswhat it allowed the company to get a little closer to Starship’s orbital launch. But the FAA provided SpaceX with a list of some 75 environmental mitigation actions which you must complete, as well as clear security obstacles, before you can be granted full permission to launch the gigantic rocket. In addition to the FAA, SpaceX is also facesThe rejection of the Army Corps of Engineers, which declined facility expansion request of the company.