SpaceX Begins Preparations for Ship 28 as it Progresses Towards Flight 3

SpaceX is making significant progress in its Starship development program, as it prepares for Flight Three with the rollout of Ship 28 to Suborbital Pad B. This milestone comes after the successful Flight Test Two and marks an exciting step forward in the company’s ambitious plans.

Ship 28 has undergone extensive testing and upgrades before being rolled out to the launch site. It has completed two cryo proof tests and spent 2.5 months on the Ship stand at the Sanchez site to receive its engines and upgrades. The ship is expected to undergo a condensed testing schedule, which may include cryo proof testing, a six-engine spin prime, and a six-engine static fire before it’s ready for stacking.

On the other hand, Booster 10, which will form the other half of the Flight Three stack, has received its Hot Stage Ring and has been placed on the new booster transport stand. This stand, designed by SpaceX, allows for the simultaneous release of 20 arms and clamps without manual interaction, making the process of moving and preparing boosters for stacking onto the Orbital Launch Mount much easier. Booster 10 is also expected to undergo condensed testing, including cryo proof testing, a 33 engine spin prime, and a 33 engine static fire before it’s ready for flight.

SpaceX’s aim is to have a short preflight testing campaign to align with their future goals, including key missions such as NASA’s Human Landing System campaigns. While minimal refurbishment was needed after the second flight test, SpaceX continues to work on inspections and pad refurbishment to make the launch pad more robust and capable of rapid turnaround for another launch. Additionally, upgrades are being made to the Orbital Tank Farm, including the installation of subcoolers, pumps, and mounts for additional horizontal tanks. These upgrades will enhance the loading capability of propellant into the full stack.

Looking ahead, Flight Four is expected to involve Ship 29 and Booster 11. Ship 29 is currently undergoing preflight work and modifications, while Booster 11 is in the process of receiving its engines and undergoing other preflight work. Ship 30 and Booster 12 are planned for Flight Five, with Ship 30 almost finished in the High Bay and Booster 12 preparing for cryo-proof testing. Ship 31 and Booster 13 are on hold for work, with Ship 31 waiting for a spot in the High Bay and Booster 13 awaiting its new thrust section. Ship 32 has been fully stacked and is awaiting its turn for flight.

Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX, recently indicated that the upcoming ships, including Ship 28, 29, 30, and 32, will be the last of Version 1 of Starship. He mentioned that Version 2 would have improved reliability, increased fuel capacity, and reduced dry mass. There have been no confirmed sightings of Version 2 hardware yet, but SpaceX has already scrapped parts of S33.

At the production site, the construction of a new High Bay is nearly complete. This new bay will be dedicated to ship construction and, coupled with the Starfactory, will significantly increase SpaceX’s production capacity for ships and boosters.

As SpaceX pushes ahead to Flight Three and continues to make progress in its Starship program, it’s evident that the company is committed to reaching new heights in space exploration through innovation and continuous improvement in its technologies. The successful development and testing of Ship 28 and Booster 10 are crucial steps towards achieving SpaceX’s goal of revolutionizing space travel. With promising upgrades and future plans for Version 2 of Starship, the future looks bright for SpaceX and its ambitious endeavors in space exploration.