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SpaceX

Starship Super Heavy Booster Begins Assembly

SpaceX is now in the initial stages of assembling the Super Heavy booster, which is essential for the company’s purported orbital Starship launches and deep space missions.

Technically, SpaceX could have tested the waters with a smaller Super Heavy prototype for the initial Starship orbital missions. Based on the purported images captured of the assembly, however, it seems that SpaceX has gone from the prototype directly into the development of a full-scale booster.

The first booster rings, which were literally labeled as Super Heavy, surfaced back in September 22. In the span of approximately a month and a half, SpaceX’s factory in Boca Chica, TX, managed to produce close to 25 steel rings – at least 6 sections with each section comprised of 4 stacked rings – as per the images captured. Note that each completed booster is purported to need at least 40 steel rings.

SpaceX can fast-track the development and assembly of both the Starship and Super Heavy by utilizing almost identical hardware and tank design to two prior Starship prototypes. With this, the company is able to leverage its existing manufacturing infrastructure for most of Starship and Super Heavy. It is also purported that the next-generation booster is likely to be simpler than its upper stage, which is one of, if not the largest, reusable upper stage and spacecraft ever once completed.

Aerodynamics, internal header tanks, tiled heat shield and conical nose section aside, Super Heavy only has one major wall to climb – an engine section that can support up to 28 raptor engines. Simply put, granted that SpaceX successfully designs a thrust structure that can feed a 28-Raptor engine configuration, the Super Heavy could very well be realized in a much easier fashion than expected.

Regardless of their success and failure, however, Starship and Super Heavy will doubtlessly be the largest rocket booster, upper stage and spacecraft once completed.

The Super Heavy booster’s 28-Raptor engine configuration is purported to have a combination of high-trust Raptors (20) with limited throttle capabilities wrapping around the other 8 gimbaling engines that can be throttled. Albeit, Elon Musk, SpaceX CEO, recently said that hop tests with the Super Heavy are possible with just two engines.

Granted that these 28 engines are operating at maximum capacity, this engine configuration is touted to produce 14.5 million lbs. (6,600 metric tons) of thrust during liftoff. This is two times as much as that of Soviet N- rockets and Saturn V; three times as much as SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy.

At approximately 230 ft. (70m), the Super Heavy, by itself, would be as tall as the Falcon Heavy, Falcon 9 and most of the operation rockets on the planet. When filled to capacity with methane propellant and liquid oxygen, the booster would come in at, roughly, 7.7 million lbs. (3500 metric tons).

To accompany the Super Heavy booster #1, which SpaceX officially named as “BN1”, is a 270-feet tall high bay, which should see a lot more activity in the days ahead. Without any major mishaps, the Super Heavy booster is expected to be completed within a couple of months; a month at the soonest.

The Muskette
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