Yesterday, Elon Musk’s SpaceX moved the next candidates for Starship Flight 3 to the Orbital Launch Mount (OLM) at Starbase for stacking. Starship 28 (Ship 28) and Super Heavy Booster 10 (B10) were fully stacked/integrated for the first time.
SpaceX has been working on both of these Starship and Super Heavy prototypes long before the Flight 2 test attempt that happened late last year.
Booster 10 and Ship 28 have been going through their independent tests for the last few months. SpaceX conducted a six-engine static fire test on Ship 28 and a 33-engine static fire test on Booster 10 in December.
The official SpaceX account on X (Twitter) posted photos of the Booster 10 and Starship 28 being transported to the Starbase launch site yesterday.
Stacking the 2nd Stage (upper part of the Starship/the spaceship itself) onto the 1st stage rocket booster (Super Heavy) is a test in itself as well. Mounting the Starship on a Super Heavy booster is also called a fully integrated Starship.
Usually, the first time a Starship is fully stacked is done for testing and evaluation to check if both stages of the spaceship integrate well together and if every bolt and joint is in its optimum position.
If we look at the recording of the Starship stacking by NASASpaceFlight, we can witness a slight wobble when the Mechazilla Chopsticks placed Ship 28 onto Booster 10. Stacking the Starship multiple times gives SpaceX engineers the data and experience for a seamless integration at the time of the actual orbital flight attempt.
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk believes that the next orbital flight test of Starship (Flight 3) is likely to reach orbit. In the last two attempts, Starship prototypes experienced rapid unscheduled disassembly (RUD) but still met their primary goals of lifting off and stage separation. These expected outcomes resulted in providing vital data that SpaceX will use to improve future flights.
SpaceX is simultaneously in the process of acquiring the final approval from the FAA for Starship’s Flight 3 orbital launch test. This approval resulted in weeks and months of delays for the Flight 2 test last year.
- 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