SpaceX Florida Starship Looks Better than the Texas Starship

The SpaceX prototype version of the new Starship looks like a cleaner and better build than the Texas prototype of the Starship in pictures tweeted out by Tom Cross.

Austin Bernard posted photos from the

There is a SpaceX Facebook Group.

SpaceX is scheduled to launch a Falcon Heavy mission tonight.

SOURCES- Twitter
Written By Brian Wang,

32 thoughts on “SpaceX Florida Starship Looks Better than the Texas Starship”

  1. Yes, it should be “shiny and smooth”, to operate effectively on orbital reentry, because irregularities imply hot spots.

  2. Good point on the cost. The follow ups are: 1) WILL it need to to be as “shiny and smooth” as the CGI, in order to operate effectively on orbital reentry? and 2) will the surface accuracy need to be better than the X15 example that was posted below by scaryjello? I’m trying to assess how critical the QA is on this. Shuttle had some issues there…

  3. Getting it to look like the CGI is perfectly feasible, but will require some dedicated tooling that it would be foolish to spend money on before they know the design is fixed.

  4. Might SpaceX be testing toward two different applications at the 2 sites – space launch and intercontinental transport?

  5. Yahoo does the rest of the web a great service in keeping those 96,000 commenters away from nice little sites like NBF. For all the nitpicking, Brian W. does a great job for a one-man (?) operation.

  6. Noseless hopper to start hover tests as soon as engine is ready.
    Prototypes are suborbital and perhaps even orbital, thermal
    shield and active cooling to be added after take off and landing
    reliability is demonstrated.(Not absolutely sure of that, though.)

  7. I don’t think the noseless hopper exists any more. Pretty sure that what’s being built is only for hover tests. Suborbital is gonna require something considerably more sophisticated.

  8. Not only that, they’re test articles that will be subjected to aerodynamic loads about the same as those your dog experiences when he hangs his head out the window of the family car.

  9. Grazie. Based on other comments here I thought about it and realized that in the final version they could also have 1) active cooling, 2) more refined fabrication which could included 3) larger sections and 4) additional grinding and polishing. “Just another” parameter space for the engineers to figure out…

  10. Musk sez the skins are intentionally thin and weak ’cause they won’t get hot in their tests. The innards are the production version, mostly.

  11. Wasn’t there a budget airline a decade or two back that had the sudden realization that they didn’t really need to paint the planes, and saved hundreds of pounds by skipping it?

    Also came up for the Space Shuttle external tank, as I recall.

  12. Obviously, they are of different materials. Although the Florida(shiny) version looks dented, it’s silhouette seems smooth.
    Generally, stainless steel tolerates higher temperatures, due to it’s nickle content. As a practical matter, stainless can be thinner since corrosion is less of a problem. In the coastal environment of Texas there will need to be some sort of coating in addition to the primer already on the metal.

    Texas material looks to be thicker, not a stainless steel, and looks to have been formed on rolling machines that are used to form heavy steel plate for tanking, or ships. It may be some high temperature alloy that is easier to work than stainless, but I doubt it. I suspect Texas depends less on internal structure to carry launch, and aerodynamic loads. I’d say this one is for the first hops, and testing flight control software. It’s likely to be much more rugged, and cheaper to build. It might be heavy enough that it can be used to test a BFR booster, without the need for weights to simulate cargo.

    Florida’s skin looks to be quite thin, and regularly spaced dark spots are seen to be spaced along some horizontal seams. The plates of the skin look to have been cut to shape, and formed in the field. I believe this iteration depends more on internal structure for structural strength. This iteration is more likely to be used for suborbital flight tests, and might ride atop a BFR booster for testing of the active heat shield.

  13. Talk about being old enough to remember when Dinosaurs walked the streets of Poughkeepsie … 

    I recall there being a quite-earnest engineering design ‘conversation’ in the mid 1960s regarding whether to paint the Saturn V (Apollo Moon mission) rockets, since there was supposedly several thousand lbs of paint on them. Hem, haw, hem, haw… back and forth the discussion went.  

    Ultimately they decided to go with ‘paint them’ because of better infrared reflectivity and break-even paint-weight increase vs. aluminum-anodizing-passivation mass, for the painted panels. A wash.

    Having done a fair amount of work in my youth trying to fab mirror-finish stainless (Inconel actually) on a car-body scale, I can say this with commanding authority: mirror finished metal sheet shows absolutely EVERY near-invisible surface deformation. The “Floria” shiny finish is doing just that. 

    Indeed … recounting again the Apollo paintless-but-shiny-aluminum discussion, this was also the case then. Paint the thing white with a diluted water-glass-and-titanium-dioxide film, and you won’t see a single burble or warp.  

    Because frankly, all those burbles and warpage looks quite unprofessional. Tho it really isn’t. 

    Just saying,
    GoatGuy ✓

  14. ⊕1 … agreed.  

    There is entirely too much “oh, oh, oh … what are they doing today?” hubris going on for my tastes. Tho’ the posting at the top about “plenty of time to paint them pink” also hit the funny-bone. GoatGuy ✓

  15. The older I get, the rarer it becomes, to read a comment that gets an entire gulp of morning tea to eject at-speed out of my snout. Your comment did it. Bravo! GoatGuy ✓

  16. I think the opposite: The Texas Space Ship looks better for me. The steel sheets are more homogeneous, while the Florida sheets are completely deformed at the welding spots.

  17. Are these just test vehicles? If so, how will the final versions be made “all smooth and shiny” enough to survive reentry? It would seem that the rivets and seams would quickly become hotspots.

  18. It looks like the two teams have differing priorities. Florida prioritized speed and economy. Maybe they just want to see how quickly and cheaply they can be built. BC was also shiny once, and suffered some heavy damage.

  19. It is shinier which implies that it is cleaner. We the simpletons always appreciate quick facts. We also understand that “competition” is that best way to ensure that the best starship will be built.

  20. I’m looking forward to seeing that BFR after a dozen re-entries. Tried & true will beat bright & shiny any day!

  21. Notice the periodic deformations along the seams on the Florida one? Characteristic of using tack welds to force the sheet into that curve.

    If I had to guess, I would say that Texas used a slip roll on the sheets to bring them to the correct curve before assembly, and the Florida team didn’t. Hence the cleaner geometry.

  22. On the Texas one it looks almost as if we are seeing welds that have had a rough, first pass grind and there are additional finishing steps yet to happen. And perhaps the panels have a temporary protective coating on them that is yet to be removed, except where welding and grinding have removed it?

    I think Brett Bellmore is correct that geometry-wise the Texas Starship looks better than the Florida one, but I wonder if the much lower reflectivity conceals similar geometric imperfections.

  23. In terms of surface corrosion Florida’s looks better, but in terms of geometry, Texas’ looks better.

  24. Perhaps it would perform better if they give it a metallic silver paint job to match the cgi renderings.

Comments are closed.