SpaceX is busy with dozens of steel rings for the starship’s first super heavy booster, and CEO Elon Musk says the assembly could be “in a few weeks”.
More than twice the height of Starship’s main tank and engine compartment, super heavy boosters will once again reach incredible heights of 70+ meters (230+ feet) – the same height or height rocket as the full-height two-level Falcon 9 or Falcon Heavy. Unlike the Starship, the Super Heavy does not have a conical nose section and, like the Starship tanks, is built entirely out of simple steel rings.
Each is 9 m (ft 30 ft) in diameter and 1.8 m (ft 6 ft) in height. SpaceX must stack 38 of those steel rings to complete the super heavy propulsion tanks, interstage and engine compartment. Interestingly, while SpaceX is making great strides in creating super heavy subdivisions, the start of the first booster assembly will have to wait until a facility (“high bay”) is ready to stack them.
Thanks to the simple labels affixed to each ring board and the careful attention of local and photographer Mary (also known as Boca Chicigal), six confirmed units of the first Super Heavy Booster (SH1) have already been found in Boca Chica. Two to four rings in height, the first of those ring segments was found on September 22nd and the other on September 28th.
Within the first few days of October, it doubled to four, five and six confirmed layers, as well as many more candidates with labels hidden from publicly accessible perspectives. In addition, the liquid oxygen tank of Super Heavy boosters will have “long stiffeners” – also known as stringers – meaning that the trio with five ring layers with stringers are candidates for Super Heavy # 1.
Assuming that one of those three five-ring decks is assigned to the first functional starship nose division, SpaceX may already have 30+ super heavy rings – for a total of ~ 38 – waiting for high bay construction to be completed.
At approximately 80 meters (~ 260 feet) high, SpaceX’s Boca Sica High Bay is basically a closed country crane used to stack and decorate super heavy boosters – the final steps in production. SpaceX and its contractors began building the high bay in early July, and Musk said the massive building was only “a few weeks away” from completion. As of October, the structure was basically finished, much like the wall cladding. Half of the roof of the building is complete, leaving a small amount of work before the electricity, HVIC and plumbing are up and running.
Surprisingly, SpaceX CEO added that the high bay will eventually be adorned with a “giant country crane”, but the super heavy booster stacking will begin before then. Meanwhile, SpaceX has a good chance of stacking super heavy subdivisions in the existing Starship Mid Bay, leaving a few large layers in the high bay to complete the first booster.
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