SpaceX is busy with dozens of steel rings for Starship’s first super heavy booster, and CEO Elon Musk says the assembly could be “in a few weeks”.
At more than twice the height of Starship’s main propulsion tank and engine compartment, Super Heavy Boosters can reach incredible heights of 70+ meters (230+ feet) – the same height or full two-level Falcon 9 or Falcon heavy rocket. Unlike the Starship, the Super Heavy does not have a conical nose section and, like the Starship tanks, is built entirely of simple steel rings.
Each is 9 m (ft 30 ft) in diameter and 1.8 m (ft 6 ft) in height. SpaceX is making great strides in creating superheavy subdivisions, and 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 group and the careful attention of local and photographer Mary (also known as Pokachikakal), 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 area, SpaceX may already have 30+ super heavy rings – for a total of ~ 38 – waiting for high bay construction to be completed.
At about 80 meters (~ 260 ft) tall, SpaceX’s Boca Sica High Bay is 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 building’s roof 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 some large layers in the high bay to complete the first booster.
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