Boca Chia Starbase, Texas – SpaceX CEO Elon Musk shared a photo of Mechazilla holding the Super Heavy Booster 7 (Starship rocket prototype) in the air in preparation for mounting on the orbital launch pad.
The prototypes currently under test are Starship 24 and Booster 7. SpaceX has installed 33 Raptor V2 engines under Booster 7 for a potential static fire test in the coming weeks.
This is the second time SpaceX attempted to lift the Super Heavy Booster yesterday (August 23, 2022) using the Mechazilla Chopsticks.
In February, SpaceX used the Mechazilla launch integration tower Chopsticks to completely stack the Starship SN20 and Booster 4 prototypes on the launch pad.
Super Heavy is the highest rocket booster in the world with a height of 69 meters. With 33 Raptor V2 engines installed on the rear, this is also probably the heaviest rocket in the world.
With 33 Raptors, Booster 7 has the most engines of any previous prototype. Booster 4 had 29 Raptor V1 rocket engines when it was mounted on the launch pad last year.
Local observers from NasaSpaceFlight.com captured the entire ordeal as the Chopsticks began lifting Booster 7 off the ground and mounting it on the launch pad. I checked the video timeline to see how long it took Super Heavy Booster 7 to fully equip on the launch pad – it took about 45 minutes for the whole process to complete – slow and easy is key here (timelapse video below).
Placing the Super Heavy booster on the launch pad using the Chopsticks required no human or other machine guidance for proper mounting and motors to be mounted correctly.
In June, SpaceX received the green light from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to conduct orbital launches from the Boca Chica launch site.
A Starship’s first orbital flight test is long overdue, FAA approval was one of the main reasons for the delay. But now it looks like SpaceX will be able to do this in the coming months, if not at least weeks.
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