SpaceX has begun stacking the first Starship launch tower in Florida.
Less than six months after the company restarted work on a Starship launch pad located a few hundred meters from the existing Falcon launch facilities at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) LC-39A, a massive new launch tower began to take shape. . Once it reaches its final height, this tower will become the second-tallest rocket-related structure on the East Coast, beaten only by NASA’s iconic and massive Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB).
He could also reach that height much sooner rather than later.
For Starship’s Pad 39A facilities, SpaceX faces the unique challenge of staging a major construction operation at one of the busiest and largest active launch sites in the United States. In the first half of 2022 alone, the LC-39A is on track to support 10 Falcon 9 launches, placing unique constraints on the construction of the adjacent Starship pad. In a partial response to these challenges, as previously reported on Teslarati, SpaceX has taken lessons from Starbase, Texas, and optimized the assembly process for a number of pad components to limit the amount of work that will need to be done. be performed on the pad itself. .
For the first launch tower, SpaceX and its contractors moved exceptionally quickly and took just over three months after work began on the first pre-engineered section to stack the structure to its full height of approximately 146 meters. (~480 feet). Each of the nine sections was essentially bare, however, reducing the amount of pre-stacking work but complicating and greatly increasing the amount of post-stacking work needed to turn the tower into something useful. For Florida’s first Starship launch tower, SpaceX spent more than three months meticulously assembling and outfitting the first six of nine pre-engineered tower sections. before the first stack.
The sections that SpaceX began stacking on June 21 already have a variety of railings, elevator shafts, doors, catwalks, hardpoints, plumbing, and more. preinstalled. Although each section and all abbreviated plumbing and hardware will need to be connected after each stack, this process should be much simpler and faster than the methods used by SpaceX in South Texas. Offsite, SpaceX is also making excellent progress assembling the pad’s doughnut-shaped orbital launch pad and parts of the three giant arms that will eventually attach to Starship’s first launch tower in Florida — two to lift and catch rockets and a third to stabilize and refuel Starship.
Much like the tower segments, chances are these Florida components will be closer to completion than their Texan siblings when they finally make their way to the launch pad for installation. Additionally, if SpaceX’s experience in Texas is representative, Starship’s first launch tower in Florida could reach full height in just a few months.
For the tower to be truly complete, SpaceX will need to complete and install three arms, and connect one of those arms to the ground supplies of Starship gas and propellant located at Pad 39A. Because 39A has never required methane, Starship’s fuel of choice, this stage will also require the installation and activation of a new tank farm and plumbing capable of storing, “sub- cool” quickly and dispense at least one thousand tons (~2.2 million pounds). liquid methane (LCH4). Starbase Florida is making great progress but there is still a lot of work between SpaceX and launch preparation.