SpaceX's orbital Starship prototype, S20, is moving a major step closer to completion after the company outfitted all six of its Raptor engines and installed the nose section that fundamentally completes the spacecraft's basic structure.
According to Teslarati, SpaceX has likewise attached the first orbital class Super Heavy Booster 4 to an immense crane at the launch pad in the company's Starbase site, near the South Texas village of Boca Chico. It was then lifted 30 to 40 meters from the transport stand and placed in the orbital pad's launch table.
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk gave fans a glimpse of the transfer in a series of tweets.
Moving rocket to orbital launch pad pic.twitter.com/zZLiXIPD6M— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 4, 2021
All 6 engines mounted to first orbital Starship pic.twitter.com/l5QnQRSg3D— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 4, 2021
Super Heavy Booster moving to orbital launch mount pic.twitter.com/axaDnXNm84— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 3, 2021
SpaceX Starship Super Heavy Booster 4 Transfer: Major Milestone Ahead of Orbital Test Flight
The report further stated that both the S20 and Booster 4 comprise two stages of an integrated vehicle for Starship's first orbital test flight, which is scheduled by yearend. While a great amount of work remains, Tuesday's developments are a major milestone in meeting that schedule.
SpaceX will then subject Super Heavy Booster 4 to a number of pressurization and engine tests before an orbital launch attempt in the coming months, Space.com revealed in a report.
Super Heavy represents the first stage of Starship, SpaceX's reusable, two-stage transportation system to bring people and cargo to the Moon, Mars, and beyond. NASA had chosen Starship for its Artemis program as a transport spacecraft in establishing a sustainable human presence in the Moon by the end of the decade. The upper stage of the final Starship structure is a 165-foot tall spacecraft cabin and cargo bay that will accommodate passengers and cargo with six Raptor engines.
The Super Heavy, which makes up the bottom half of the structure and stands 230 feet tall, will be powered by 32 Raptors. Musk previously presented the enormous interiors of the spacecraft, which is targeted to carry 100 passengers. The 165-foot tall spacecraft, which is around the size of a 16-storey building, is made of stainless steel with massive header tanks in the nose. A production version of the cabin has yet to be revealed.
SpaceX Starship 'Mechazilla' Launch Tower Slowly Taking Shape
Musk also recently touted SpaceX's vast launch tower, which he described as a "Mechazilla." In July, SpaceX pieced together components of the 440-foot megastructure. This will serve as the Starship "launch tower" with three (or five) large arms for stabilizing, fueling, and catching the passenger spacecraft and the Super Heavy booster, a separate Teslarati post read.
The Starship launch tower that catches the giant rocket booster is basically Mechazilla— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 10, 2021
SpaceX had been busy finishing the ninth and final section of the structure, which is expected to be the roof of the launch tower. The four-legged tower section had been outfitted with what seemed to be an appendage with several enormous pulleys. This should be part of a pulley system that will allow the large arms to grab, lift, and catch the Starships and Super Heavy boosters.