SpaceX is gearing up for the 2nd Starship orbital flight attempt at its Starbase, Boca Chica, Texas launch site. The main hurdle in the way is the pending FAA approval that Elon Musk’s space company mentioned in its last update.
However, the FAA approval process is apparently moving forward internally and it will be made public once SpaceX fulfills every requirement, which ultimately it will. We make this assumption based on the increasing Starship-related developments and activities at Starbase. Just last week, SpaceX performed a full-scale propellant load test on Starship 25.
“Starship and Super Heavy were loaded with more than 10 million pounds of propellant today in a flight-like rehearsal ahead of launch,” SpaceX posted on X (Twitter) as it performed a wet dress rehearsal on Starship 25 and Booster 9 last week on the evening of Tuesday 24th October 2023.
SpaceX released the following aerial footage of the majestic Starship stacked on a Super Heavy Rocket booster at Starbase as the loading of 10 million pounds of propellant loading completed.
SpaceX is trying to conduct the next Starship launch as soon as possible. The space travel and logistics company claims that it has made thousands of upgrades to Starship systems to prepare it for the next orbital flight test and overcome the mistakes made in the previous launch attempt.
A recent local notice to Mariners document by the US Coast Guard has information that strongly suggests that the Starship launch attempt might happen next week. The notice document specifically mentions the 6th November 2023 date for the Starship launch to warn Mariners of hazards around Boca Chica Beach.
The US Coast Guard notice reads:
FL/AL/MS/LA/TX – GULF OF MEXICO – Hazardous Space Operations – UPDATE
On November 6, 2023, between 5:25 a.m. and 11:15 a.m., rocket launching operations are scheduled to take place near Boca Chica Beach, Texas. Back-up launch dates and times include each day following November 1, 2023, between 5:25 a.m. and 11:15 a.m., until conditions permit the launch. Mariners operating offshore in waters east of Brownsville, Texas, are advised of the scheduled rocket launching activities and associated hazardous areas which may impact navigation interests.
Navigational hazards from rocket launching activity may include, free falling debris and/or descending vehicles or vehicle components, under various means of control. Mariners should avoid all waters within rocket flight trajectories originating from launch sites in the vicinity of Boca Chica and Brownsville, Texas.
Rocket launching operations high risk areas will be bound by the following approximate positions:
SpaceX is building a trench and a wall next to the Suborbital Launch Site at Starbase. According to NASASpaceFlight reporting, this is done to route recently laid power lines under Highway 4 over to the launch site. The construction of this wall will block camera angles observing Starbase and Starship launches from this area (update video below).
The Starship 26 prototype (Ship 26) was removed from the Suborbital Launch Site and moved back to the production site. Later on, SpaceX moved Starship 26 to the Rocket Garden (parking of archived Starship prototypes). This hints that Ship 26 will never be used for a flight test.
SpaceX brought two CO2 booster tanks to the Orbital Launch Site last week. These tanks will be used to suppress the engine bay fire at the time of the Starship launch. The first flight caused significant damage to the launch pad (Orbital Launch Mount / OLM) due to insufficient fire mitigation mechanisms.
In addition to the new OLM water deluge system, SpaceX has now added these new tanks to the OLM which will be used to purge CO2 gas to the Super Heavy booster engine bay to minimize damage from fire and heat.
SpaceX is simultaneously working on the flight-capable Starship prototype named Starship 28 or Ship 28. During the last week or so, it has been spotted at Starbase as SpaceX engineers and employees worked on the spaceship.
Ship 28 is expected to soon be lifted off the engine installation stand and rolled out to the launch site for static fire testing. SpaceX workers at Starbase were seen installing heat shield tiles on Starship 28 to prepare it for future launches after Ship 25 performs the upcoming orbital flight test.
This and more updates can be watched in the NASASpaceFlight YouTube video below.