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SpaceX Starship completely stacked is the “dream come true”

SpaceX stacks the Starship 20 prototype on top of the Super Heavy Booster 4 missile on August 6, 2011.

@elonmusk on Twitter

Elon Musk’s SpaceX first piled up a Starship rocket prototype on top of a Super Heavy rocket booster for the first time Friday morning, giving an eye to the scale of the nearly 400-foot combined vehicle.

Musk, when asked by CNBC what he thought he was witnessing at the stage of the company’s structure in Boca Chica, Texas, responded simply.

“The dream has come true,” Musk replied in a tweet.

SpaceX is developing Starship to launch cargo and people on missions to the moon and Mars. The Starship prototypes are about 160 feet tall, or around the size of a 16-story building, and are constructed of stainless steel – representing the first version of the rocket that Musk unveiled in 2019.

The rocket rises to the top of a Super Heavy booster, which forms the lower half of the rocket and rises about 230 meters. Together, Starship and Super Heavy are 400 feet tall when they are stacked for launch.

SpaceX launches Super Booster 4 in preparation for the company’s first Starship orbital launch.

Elon Musk

SpaceX has conducted several brief tests of Starship prototypes over the past year, but getting into orbit represents the next step in the spacecraft test. The company unveiled in May its plan for the first orbital flight, which will be launched from the company’s structure in Texas and aims to fly off the coast of Hawaii.

The work to be done

A SpaceX crane lifted the Starship 20 prototype on top of the Super Heavy Booster 4 missile during stacking operations on August 6, 2021.

@elonmusk on Twitter

Musk explained four “significant elements” that SpaceX plans to accomplish over the next two weeks in preparation for Starship 20 for launch.

He said SpaceX needs to add “final thermal shield plates” to the ship, add “thermal protection” to the Raptor race engines in Booster 4, complete work on “terrestrial propellant storage tanks.” and added a quick disconnect arm on top of the newly built launch tower. The quick disconnect arm connects the power and fuel lines to the shaft before launch.

While the SpaceX fleet of Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy races are partially reusable, Musk’s goal is to make Starship completely reusable – a rocket that is more like a commercial airplane, with short response times between flights such as the only major cost is fuel.

SpaceX stacks the Starship 20 prototype on top of the Super Heavy Booster 4 missile on August 6, 2021.

@elonmusk on Twitter

An important part of making Starship completely reusable is to improve its durability in order to survive the intense process of re-entry of the Earth’s atmosphere. Small hexagonal heat shield tiles are SpaceX’s answer to this problem, with the first-shining Starship 20 rack now covered in thousands of tiles.

Musk noted that work on the tiles is about “98% done” for Starship 20, that “the remaining tiles are unique shapes that need machining.”

NASA is making a case

A SpaceX crane is preparing to lift the Starship 20 prototype on top of the Super Heavy Booster 4 missile during the stacking operations on August 6, 2021.

@elonmusk on Twitter


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