The stacking of the Starship SN20 prototype was actually planned for yesterday but it got delayed due to the high winds at the Starbase Boca Chica, Texas launch site. Finding the weather feasible today, SpaceX started lifting Starship SN20 earlier this morning around 7:00 am.
Now finally, SpaceX has stacked the Starship SN20 on the Super Heavy Booster 4 successfully. This is the first time ever that a Starship prototype has been stacked on a Super Heavy rocket, completing the full stack of the interplanetary spaceship designed and developed by Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX).
This historic moment can be watched from the lift of the Starship SN20 to the stacking in the following video that was recorded live by the NasaSpaceFlight.com team.
Starship SN20 was rolled out to the orbital launch pad at the SpaceX Starbase launch site just yesterday. Some heat shield tiles are still missing on SN20 even after the full stacking but as Elon Musk said yesterday, “Remaining tiles are on their way,” this should be taken care of soon.
Even though Starship SN20 has now been successfully mated with the Super Heavy Booster 4 but the orbital flight test might not be very close. It might take several weeks of cryogenic tests and tons of other validations and fixes to prepare this Starship for the orbital flight.
Like the Falcon 9, SpaceX has designed both the Super Heavy rockets and Starship with reusability in mind. This will drastically lower down the orbital, lunar, and interplanetary space travel costs.
We have seen a successful landing of a Starship prototype (SN15), now SpaceX just needs to demonstrate a perfect landing of a Super Heavy rocket booster — and that may not be too far in the future.
Musk has just tweeted that it was a dream come true seeing the full-stack Starship. He also listed the following 4 significant items that will take place after the pressure tests etc.
- Final heat shield tiles for ship
- Thermal protection of booster engines
- Ground propellant storage tanks
- QD arm for ship
Musk also explained that ~98% of heat shield tiles for the Starship SN20 are done, the installation of the rest is waiting because of their unique shaping.
Talking further about the reusability of Starship in another tweet thread, “Moreover, it must be rapidly & completely reusable (like an airplane). This is the only way to make life multiplanetary. Efficiencies of scale is why Starship is so large,” Elon Musk stated.
As I was preparing this article, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has just shared a few stunning images of the full stack Starship SN20+ Booster 4.