SpaceX is busy producing dozens of steel rings for Starship’s first super heavy booster. CEO Elon Musk said the assembly will only take “weeks”.
Much more than twice the height of Starship’s main propulsion tank and engine section, the Super Heavy Booster, when done, holds an incredible 70 meters (230 feet) or more. It is equal to or higher in height than the full second tier Falcon 9 or Falcon Heavy. rocket. Unlike the Starship, the Super Heavy does not have a conical nose section and is made only from simple steel rings like the Starship tank.
With a diameter of 9 m (~30 ft) each and a height of 1.8 m (~6 ft), the SpaceX will require about 38 steel rings to be stacked to complete the super heavy’s propulsion tank, stage and engine sections. Surprisingly, SpaceX is making a lot of progress in building super heavy sub-sections, so the start of the first booster assembly will have to wait for a sufficiently high facility (“high bay”) to be ready to be stacked.
Thanks to the convenient label affixed to each ring group and the careful eyes of local resident and photographer Mary (also known as BocaChicaGal), more than six confirmed sections of the first Super Heavy Booster (SH1) have already been found in Boca Chica. The first of these ring parts, ranging from two to four ring heights, was discovered on September 22nd, followed by another on the 28th.
In early October, this number doubled with 4, 5 and 6 verified stacks and multiple candidates with hidden labels from a publicly accessible perspective. Also, Musk’s recent mention that the Super Heavy Booster’s liquid oxygen tank will have a “vertical reinforcement”, also known as a stringer, means that a stack of three 5-rings with that stringer has become a candidate for Super Heavy #1.
Assuming that one of the three five ring stacks is reserved for the first functional starship nose section, SpaceX may already have more than 30 super heavy rings (38 in total) waiting for the completion of high bay construction.
At roughly 80 meters (~260 feet) tall, SpaceX’s Boca Chica High Bay is basically a closed gantry crane used to stack and mount super heavy boosters, which are the final stages of production. SpaceX and its contractors began building the high bay in early July, and Musk says this massive building is only “weeks” from completion. As of October, the structure is basically finished, just like wall cladding. About half of the roof of the building was also completed, leaving only a bit of work left before powering, HVAC, and plumbing.
Naturally, SpaceX CEO says super heavy booster stacking is likely to start before that, but eventually high bays will be equipped with “giant gantry cranes”. In the meantime, it’s likely that SpaceX will start stacking super heavy sub-sections in the existing Starship mid bays leaving only a few big stacks in the high bays to complete the first booster.
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