SpaceX once again readies a fully-stacked Starship today, the first attempt of 2023. Starship 24 (SN24) was lifted onto the Super Heavy rocket prototype Booster 7 (BN7) at the Starbase, Boca Chica, Texas launch site.
Elon Musk’s space exploration company posted beautiful aerial footage of this event in timelapse to give space enthusiasts a glimpse into the grandiosity of the event.
The Chopsticks installed on Starship’s launch integration tower aka Mechazilla lifted Starship 24 onto Booster 7 earlier today. Booster 7 was already set on the Orbital Launch Mount to perform this operation.
Speculatively, this fully-stacked Starship is intended for prelaunch rehearsal tests before the first orbital flight test. This is believed because this time Booster 7 seems to have all the 33 Raptor engines installed on it and Starship 24 has all 6 aft engines in place as well.
SpaceX performed a static fire test on Ship 24 with a single Raptor engine installed just last month. Now it’s most probably time for a full dress rehearsal with all engines in place.
A couple of days were really busy at Starbase before this year’s first Starship stacking on 10th Jan. SpaceX rolled out Booster 7 to the launch from the production and maintenance area. Some equipment was removed from the Orbital Launch Mount (OLM) and SpaceX engineers and technical teams were spotted working on the OLM after Booster 7 was lifted on it (see the video by NASASpaceFlight.com below).
Starship’s 1st Orbital Flight Test in 2023
There is a series of tests that need to be performed before finally getting to the stage where SpaceX can get a go-ahead for the first Starship orbital flight test.
In a tweet on Sunday, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk provided a tentative timeline for Starship’s first orbital flight test of late February or early March. “We have a real shot at late February. March launch attempt appears highly likely,” he said.
The 1st orbital flight test of Starship was originally scheduled for November 2022 but for a pile of reasons and constant testing, it never happened last year. The big hurdle in these tests was environmental approvals. But SpaceX finally obtained approval from the FAA for Starship’s orbital flight test in June 2022.
However, hopes are high for this mega event in space exploration history to happen early this year. To accelerate the process, and his busy schedule with Twitter, Elon Musk delegated the Starship program to SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell back in November 2022.
- Starship 28 stacked on Booster 10 for the first time in preparation for Flight 3 orbital launch test
- Starship Flight 3 likely to reach orbit, Elon Musk explains the reason for Flight 2 explosion and achievements of 2023
- SpaceX ends 2023 with a major Starship Flight 3 milestone — 33 engine Booster 10 static fire test
- SpaceX conducts a successful six-engine static fire test on Flight 3 Starship, next test is expected after Christmas
- Elon Musk’s iPhone wallpaper of Starship’s 2nd launch tells us a bit about his phone preferences
- 2nd Starship launch was a success, it went way beyond stage separation and then missing in space