SpaceX begins construction of Starship launch pad in Florida

An aerial view of Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center shows where SpaceX previously began work on the Starship launch pad (lower right corner) taken during the Inspiration4 crew flyover on September 13, 2021.

John Kraus / Inspiration4

SpaceX has begun construction of a launch pad for its Starship rockets in Florida, CEO Elon Musk announced Friday, as the company hopes to add another launch site for the giant rocket that is in development.

“Construction of the Starship Orbital Launch Pad at the Cape has begun,” Musk said on Twitter.

Starship is a huge next-generation rocket that SpaceX is developing to launch cargo and people on flights to the Moon and Mars.

Starship prototype test launches six of its Raptor rocket engines on November 12, 2021 in Boca Chica, Texas.


The company previously began some work on a dedicated Starship launch pad at Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, which SpaceX leases from the agency to launch its Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets. But since builders poured concrete into the foundation of the Starship site at the end of 2019, the site has largely remained dormant.

NASA confirmed in a statement to CNBC that SpaceX is “within the scope of its lease to improve the launch infrastructure within the site.” The agency also confirmed that NASA is not providing funding for the Starship launch site, and has deferred to SpaceX about the scope, cost, and timing of the project.

The space agency conducted an environmental assessment of the plan in 2019 and authorized SpaceX to begin work on the LC-39A site. But the agency said that “only construction is currently being approved,” and that permits for launches and landings require a separate approval process.

When SpaceX started developing Starship in earnest two years ago, the company began building prototype rockets both near NASA’s facility and at its private facility in Boca Chica, Texas. The company later focused on work at the Boca Chica site, nicknamed Starbase, and has since conducted Starship test flights and more from the Texas location.

Musk said last month that SpaceX will “hopefully” launch the first Starship prototype into orbit in January or February from Texas, marking the company’s next major step in rocket development. This test is pending regulatory approval as SpaceX requires a launch license from the FAA for the mission, with the FAA scheduled to complete a major environmental assessment by the end of this year.

Musk’s tweet on Friday marks the resumption of work at the Florida spaceport for the giant rocket as it pushes SpaceX to perform a dozen Starship test flights next year.

Its construction announcement also comes as SpaceX is working to resolve the “crisis” with the Raptor engines used in Starship rockets, Musk emailed staff the day after Thanksgiving. Musk’s email described the dire situation, warning SpaceX of a “real risk of bankruptcy” unless the company regularly launches Starship rockets by the end of 2022. In a brief update earlier this week, Musk tweeted that the Raptor engine problems are a “fix,” but did not provide more details on the problem or solution.

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button