Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX has confirmed that the company’s second Orbital Starship prototype is already in the early stages of integration at a parallel Florida facility.
It has been public for some time that SpaceX is planning to simultaneously build Starship prototypes in Texas and Florida. And now it is confirmed that another Starship vehicle is under construction in Florida after NASASpaceflight.com uploaded pictures on the twitter.
The CEO tweeted with the image that “SpaceX is doing simultaneous competing builds of Starship in Boca Chica Texas & Cape Canaveral Florida.” He explained that their plan is to find out which place is most effective. Still, SpaceX’s strategy of building largely identical prototypes in separate locations And that too with different teams could be an effective method of speeding up development.
By the end of 2018, SpaceX rapidly increased its presence at Boca Chica, Texas and started building what would eventually become a Starhopper. Effectively a testbed for SpaceX to gain experience building an operating rockets made out of steel, Starhopper is unlikely to ever move beyond low-speed, low-altitude hover tests. Starhopper has already performed its first two tests in the first week of the April and is expected to start its second round of powered flights by late May.
The East Coast Starship being built in Florida.
— Chris B – NSF (@NASASpaceflight) May 14, 2019
In March 2019, the Boca Chica team of SpaceX started assembling and welding together the stainless steel thin sheets to form the structure of the first (potentially) orbit-capable Starship prototype. The Boca Chika prototype will stand around 32.5m (~105 ft) tall, including the metal nose and tank sections, with the bulk of the work remaining.
In short, the more complex of the tasks at hand still lay ahead, including Starship’s actuating tripod fins/legs, actuating canards, the bulk of the spacecraft’s tankage, and a thrust structure capable of handling up to seven Raptors. At full power, seven Raptors would produce more than 1.5 times the thrust of an entire Falcon 9 booster
In other words, The small cylindrical section of the first Florida Starship is just a first step, a lot more yet to come. Well, we hope that with two similar groups working on the same problem simultaneously, SpaceX’s rate of learning is about to jump even higher than it already is. And SpaceX would be ready to attempt the first orbital Starship launch before the end of 2020, as CEO Elon Musk hoped at the beginning.