There could be two more SpaceX Starship test flights in May. SN16 could fly and SN15 could be flown again.
Elon Musk tweeted that SN15 might refly soon.
SN11 was flown about 22 days after SN10. SN15 was flown 27 days after SN11.
This cadence means that both SN16 and SN15 could have flights in May.
Above is the production status of Starships and super heavy boosters from Brendan Lewis.
There is also interesting construction of the new integration tower to stack a Starship on top of super-heavy booster.
There are various renderings of the launch tower from Blender 3D Eccentric and Lunar Caveman.
SN15 – good flight and landing
SN20 (planned orbital attempt with BN3 in July)
BN3 (planned first orbital attempt)
Felix at What About It? reviews the Starship plans.
Might try to refly SN15 soon
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 7, 2021
#Spacex Boca Chica Launch Site!🚀
1⃣Nine steel plates are bolted to the newly delivered columns for the launch tower.
the necessary drillings we see also at the installed columns.
2⃣Thick-walled stainless steel pipes with branches are added to the launch table.@elonmusk
— Owe BL (@Bl3D_Eccentric) May 4, 2021
Owe, incredible detail! I noticed these holes (for guide rails IMO) are only on the 3 columns closest to the pad. Something to consider in your next render 🚀👍 pic.twitter.com/ssBKBNiQMv
— LunarCaveman (@LunarCaveman) May 4, 2021
SOURCES- Lunar Caveman, Brendan Lewis, Felix at What About It?, SpaceX, Elon Musk
Written By Brian Wang, Nextbigfuture.com
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
Known for identifying cutting edge technologies, he is currently a Co-Founder of a startup and fundraiser for high potential early-stage companies. He is the Head of Research for Allocations for deep technology investments and an Angel Investor at Space Angels.
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37 thoughts on “Possibly Two More SpaceX Starship Flights in May”
Thanks for the links, Brian. Super interesting.
Best post in a long time. Made me laugh out loud…
You are aware that Elon is attempting to incorporate a new town in the unincorporated Boca Chica village area south of the Brownsville city limits called Starbase right?
And of course, the Moon is so special that fools such as myself and Criswell do argue for putting collectors on a planet surface, the Moon's. But that is the exception that proves the rule. And even then L5 looks good too. Crisewell LSP 2009 at searchanddiscovery for mo info.
MARCIA DUNN Fri, May 7, 2021, 3:24 PM CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — NASA’s new administrator is big on tackling climate. . .
So, the O'Neill question has nothing to do with our current situation. As a specific but very important component of the overall idea, ask: Is the surface. . .for collecting sunlight, for heat, for electricity, for light? Only a fool would answer that a planet had any place in the discussion. Yet Space Solar is not seen as relevant in the above story, I'll bet. The same thing happens when you look at micr0g and vacuum and on and on that the tech civ needs. Then, you see the tinyness of planets. After you realize that the big question is not close, that NO WAY are planets even in the running overall, do you stop thinking of planets! Forget Mars. Eat the Moon!
I suspect that's a step too far for Musk, who wants to be able to re-launch Starships fast.
I can envision fast stacking a new modular top on a Starship tank and engine base, but not fast connecting high pressure cryo-liquid tanks to an engine section. Not to say it couldn't be done, just sounds like a major complication. Not something I know anything about.
Anyway, it'd be pretty easy to just leave Starship "base sections" in orbit as the engines get old enough that they probably can't land or launch again, and use those for a fuel farm.
Though I wonder a bit about the usefulness of fuel dumps – getting the timing right to let a Starship rendezvous with one without expending a lot of fuel (or a lot of time) – is that going to be practical? Would we really need dozens or hundreds of fuel depots spaced along various useful orbits?
SpaceX's renders show a crane on top of the tower which picks up SS on a landing pad on one side of it, raises it and puts it on top of Superheavy which is sitting on a launch mount on the other side of the tower.
I'm sure that the procedure will be refined from those early renders, but for now, that is what we know they are planning.
How many of these various ideas besides catching the Super Heavy booster have even been hinted at by Elon or anyone at SpaceX, and how many of them are fever dreams of the folks posting here?
I see the orbiter landing on a high pad mounted on the tower as quite easy! Something has to lift or lower the orbiter on to the booster. Now, doing it onto some sort of docking ring thingy so you do not need struts? Have the launch ring (if not going to booster) slide around under it as it gets close, capture on launch mounts?? A giant hot dog bun?
Shouldn't be in too much of a rush. Review SN15 flight. See if there is any thing you learn that you can quickly apply to SN16. Modify SN15 as best as you can and loft it again.
Acceptance of the locals has been slow.
I'm surprised the hordes have not descended – Burning Man – like.
The Moon will need a special version with rockets at the top, to reduce the risk of debris ejection damaging the Starship.
Which is reasonable, seeing it is already causing some problems here on Earth.
After they make a solid landing pad with exhaust deflectors, then they could land with the same version they will use for Mars landings.
That's gonna be a sight to behold.
But I have my doubts it can get that reliable.
If they can't make it as incredibly safe and reliable as they expect, then it will be using landing pads, carriers and cranes for the foreseeable future.
Which wouldn't be bad, actually, just not as fast a turnaround time as they hoped. Several days or so to get the Starship and SH ready to relaunch would be sci/fi territory already.
But if it works, then it will be a "Thunderbirds are go!" future right there.
agreed. why even call it Boca Chica? Just call it MuskLand and discard all the pre-tense. The tech-utopic version of The Truman Show's Seaside, Florida.
That being said, I would live there. Non Teslas allowed?
SS is very much more like Shuttle than first seems. Replace wings with ET and SRBs with normal booster, got it. SS Should be able to carry a large tank as cargo, or a large section of hab, or . . . bring back engines after removal.
I *think* the orbiter will land on an elevated platform above the booster, and be lowered onto it if not doing suborbital stuff. There cannot be yet another crane other than the launch tower. Turn around in a few hours, probably working on stuff while being lowered.
His early idea was to land directly on the launch pad, which by definition can withstand the landing blast. No legs, just the hold down clamps, opened. Too precise a requirement, so catch and place before actual landing. You guys convinced me boosters could weigh more without as much *cost* as rest of stuff, so don't need H, and the same applies to booster legs. A little bit more fuel would be a lot cheaper than the catch tower if that were the main concern.
"The feature/system you don't need is the best" O'Neill had ideas about launching along those very lines. Musk seemingly has never thought about anything BUT launching. He must know of the abundant C on the Moon by now?
ONLY because we are not in Space YET, which the question does not cover as a possibility. Another possibility is that we are all dead, or can move the solar system into an electron. At all times, in all normal conditions, the surface of a planet is the WRONG place for an expanding tech civilization. Just think if we had left the planet before killing so much, destroying so much.
The best justification for your 2.5 stage design, would be to leave the tanks in orbit. The tanks are cheap, and potentially very valuable once in orbit.
For one thing, an orbital tank farm would vastly improve their in orbit refueling plans.
I thought the hover catch was so they could omit the landing legs, (Musk's standard principle: The feature/system you don't need is the best, because it weighs nothing, and has no chance of failing.) and land far enough from the ground to avoid back-blast.
As it happens, the grid fins already have to be strong enough to handle the weight at landing, very convenient.
I would simply amend that to say, "At some point, no."
At some point, no, is not the same as "at all points, no".
No air on the moon and little on Mars to sustain fires, though hot exhaust bouncing back is an issue in itself.
For the moon they'll apparently finish landing (and maybe start re-launch??) with high-mounted rockets firing to the sides. Maybe they can use that for Mars as well? But those wouldn't be strong enough for Earth landings.
Shifting to a 2.5 stage design where (only for Earth) the tanks and engines portion of Starship land separately, that section could re-enter, belly-flop to slow to sub-sonic, flip and be caught like Superheavy or land on legs like Falcon9's first stage.
It seems to me that SpaceX has made some great strides in just the last few months. Their rapid prototyping roadmap allows them to build/test new ideas quickly. We're watching the project evolve nearly in real-time.
In a short while, SpaceX will be sending that big shiny bird into orbit. People will be able to see it flying overhead.
The future is almost here.
Tower on Earth only, not on Mars/Moon.
Are you speaking of the Starship upper stage or the Super Heavy booster? I have only heard of the idea to catch the Super Heavy booster using arms on the launch tower. I have not heard of any suggestion to catch the Starship upper stage. Since the Starship upper stage is intended to land on Mars or the Moon, I think it does not make sense to expect there be a tower there to catch it.
Step 0: return to Moon
Indeed! The O'Neill micr0g work on ISS is a sell out, with astronauts *accidentally* there as test subjects for some other plan, what was it?, anyway they did/do far better than robotic free-flyer experiments would. The interviews with the crews are always talking of needing more Space! We can build heavy dumb pressure vessels that will allow the *outside* of the small habs to be shirtsleeve, with breather, rather than full suit. Yet still less pressure than living vol. We are able to jump on the exponential/gold rush curve at a larger initial size with better rockets. O'Neill is all about the simple question: "Is the surface of a planet the right place for an expanding tech civilization?" Energy collection, mining, manufacturing, farming, everything. NOW!!!!!
One seldom discussed benefit of larger,cheaper rockets, is that humans in a spacesuit will soon become relevant in space again.
For repairing, building, recovering stuff… humans simply are superior and cheaper than hundred million dollar bots, for some specific work related functions, enabled by cheap access to space with sizable masses.
And with the return of the astronauts and the arrival of real tools there, there will be a new dawn of just so-far-dreamed things, like bigger space stations. settlements and mining facilities on the Moon and asteroids.
And from there, O'Neill settlements will look much closer than ever.
Step Four: Tweet "Tag, you're it!"
Step Five: Return to Boca Chica
Step Five: Break back out Dr. Evil costume and rent white kitty
Do not pass go, do not collect $500, taken to jail by the FAA…
Well, at least it would have been fun
My kids were disappointed there were no explosions. I think I sold the test wrong.
Step One: fill SN15 full of fuel and oxidizer.
Step Two: fly to BO’s test range, land on their pad.
Step Three: Tweet “All UR Base Are Belong To Us!”
The hover catch is to avoid having to move with a crane, even a few inches to hold downs would take a long time. Can land on flat surface with hardened innards, only one engine, but then have to be placed over hole for take off, a long wait. Either land with very high precision or get caught seems the choice. Now, about the orbiter . . .
As rockets get bigger, cheaper, the relative size of the planets get smaller. Thus the need to start ISMRU according to O'Neill is actually more urgent than with small rockets. Otherwise, the answer is always the same no matter the size of the rocket: The surface of a planet is NOT the right place. O'Neill was showing examples based upon Shuttle promises. Then, with no hope, miro-Space was thought of to start with very tiny machines on Moon. Now, SS looks like Shuttle promised, so we can see things going faster. Just use the bigger rockets for bigger factories, it is quite simple concept.
I like explosions.
Yes they are. With the problems being caused so far by engine exhaust bouncing back at the engines area causing leaks and fires I can see why. Not sure how they’re going to be able to land and take off without such a system.
Wow Finally! Seems like I've been waiting forever for Starship to stick a landing!
So what is next? Will anyone go out on a limb to predict a timeframe for these milestones?
· Starship Booster Test Flight
· Starship Orbital Flight
· Starship Orbital Flight with full Payload Delivered
· Starship Refueling Tanker Test
· Refuel in space success
· Starship Lunar Orbit or Landing (Unmanned)
· First Manned Starship Flight
· Manned Lunar Landing
· Manned Mars landing
· First Commercial Space Station launched
· First Space Station with rotational gravity
· First Lunar Base established
· First Lunar 3D printed building from regolith
· First Lunar ice mine
· First Lunar resources used in Orbital Space construction
· First profitable Asteroid Mine
· First Nuclear engine test in space
· First Nuclear transport to Moon/Mars
· …First 100 people in space at once … 1000?
SN15 probably won't survive the second test, but that's what test rockets are for!
The idea is to have them launch many, many times, so there's a long road to cross for them yet.
By the way: are they still going with the idea of a launch tower with grappling arms (to catch it on landing)?
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