Booster 7 underwent a cryogenic proof test earlier in the week, Ship 24 sections were moved around the production site, and work on the launch tower sections in Florida continues.
Starbase testing and construction continues
As Booster 4 met its retirement after a multitude of tests, Booster 7 is next in line for a potential orbital flight test later this year.
Its test campaign began with what appeared to be a successful cryogenic proof test. This is where the vehicle is filled with super-cold liquid nitrogen to test the structural integrity of the booster. It appears the test marked the first time both the Booster’s liquid oxygen and methane tanks were fully filled.
Amongst other work on Booster 7, a LOX tank hatch was installed. Days later, SpaceX’s LR 11000 crane was attached to the vehicle and the Booster’s quick-disconnect retracted. This came before a lift off the orbital launch mount onto the structural test stand. Booster 7 has now been hooked up to GSE ahead of further testing in the coming weeks.
There has been a hive of activity around Ship 24 in recent days as its development furthers. The Ship is set to fly with Booster 7 to orbit but as has happened numerous times during Starship development, plans change fast.
Several of the Ship’s sections have been moved to the high bay ahead of stacking including its aft, LOX tank, nosecone, and payload sections. The vehicle’s nosecone and payload bay were stacked on Sunday paving the way for more stacking soon.
Much of Ship 24’s belly is outfitted with thermal protection system tiles which are designed to protect the Ship on its descent to Earth. As part of Starship’s Orbital Flight Test, however, Ship 24 is destined to land in the ocean and not back at Starbase’s launch facility.
Amongst other work at Starbase, wide bay construction progresses with several new beams having been installed. A Ship and Booster methane transfer tube each have also been delivered to the production site whilst the Ship’s quick-disconnect was transported back to the production site. This is to be either modified or replaced to accommodate Ship 24’s new design.
At the launch site, further chopstick testing took place with the mechanism rising to the top of the orbital launch tower. Ship 20, following cryogenic proof and static fire testing, was moved to Pad B. The reason for its move to the suborbital launch site remains unclear.
Florida Starship work pushes forward
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Starship work in Florida has kept a similar pace of development as in Starbase.
At SpaceX’s Roberts Road facility, construction of the launch tower segments are rapid. As of the latest imagery, two-tower sections appear complete, one almost complete and work on another section has begun.
This takes place as concrete work at LC-39A continues. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has previously said Starship’s pad at the Cape will have a similar, but improved, ground system & tower to Starbase.