The development of the launch infrastructure never ends in Starbase, Texas where a piece of Starship’s future orbital launch pad was just installed. Meanwhile, Starship SN15 seems to get ready to be moved back to the manufacturing facility.
Starship orbital pad progress
Current guesses for what is next on SpaceX’s goals for Starship is launching its first orbital mission. This means that the orbital launch pad needs to be completed enough to support a launch. We’ve learned in an FCC filing that the first orbital flight will not be recovered at the pad. So just a barebones launch pad is needed for the first launch.
When might this happen? Unsure, but construction on the pad has continued steadily. Now with no pauses due to flight testing, the teams can push ahead to finish the ground service equipment. We saw two tanks placed on concrete pedestals, the second segment of the support tower to be lifted and stacked, and continued work on the pad’s table. All of these items will need to be finished for the first launch of Superheavy but we will most likely not see anything needed for recovery of the booster or Starship added till after the flight.
The third segment that needs to be lifted is near Boca Chica Village. Aerial photos show they were built next to each other and will most likely be moved to the launch site once the first one is fully installed.
Third segment stacked
Friday a third tower segment was moved down the highway from the main facility and to the orbital launchpad build site. It was quickly lifted and installed onto the growing tower near the pad. There seems to be one more segment on the main facility that is being worked on. The tower is certainly getting tall, once finished it will be one of the tallest structures in the area.
What is happening with Starship SN15
Following the flight of SN15, the vehicle was moved onto test stand B. This rose questions if SpaceX was going to refly the vehicle or do a static fire. Over the weekend, teams at the pad removed the three Raptor engines, and yesterday a transport mount was moved to the pad. This means that we will see SN15 move back to the manufacturing site sometime this week.
What SpaceX will do with it next is unknown. Rumors of a second flight or static fire seem unlikely now, as any flight operations would stall the work on the orbital pad. The focus is now on getting to orbit, with signs of what could be SN20, supposedly the first orbital Starship, being seen around Starbase.
Our wish for what to do with SN15
It would be great to see SpaceX keep SN15 as a monument to the hard work of SpaceX employees. Similar to what they have done with their first Dragon, first landed Falcon 9 booster, and Starhopper. Placing SN15 somewhere where it can be viewed for years to come would bring joy to the community and inspiration to future engineers and astronauts. Hopefully, this is the plan instead of it being scrapped, maybe place it near the Prancing Pony?
Starship SN15 moved
Earlier this week Starship SN15 was taken off test pad B and moved down Boca Chica Blvd to the main facility. Interesting though, it was not taken back to the high or mid bays but down Remedios Ave, a side street by the UTRGV Stargate building. It was dropped off near an RV park that is known to have a display mount for a Starship. So it looks like SN15 will live on for a long time to come.
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