SpaceX assembles Starship Boosters at the Texas Launch Tower

The massive rocket will undergo a series of tests before it is ready for launch.

SpaceX’s massive Super Heavy Booster Stage now stands (very) high on the company’s launch pad in south Texas as it awaits a series of tests and final inspections. The company is aiming to launch the fully stacked Starship rocket for a flight test as early as July, but a number of regulatory hurdles still stand in the way.

The prototype known as Booster 7 was transported to the starbase launch site last week for its third and possibly final voyage. In a process that lasted June 23-24, B7 was lifted onto the Orbital Launch Mount by a pair of mechanical arms known as “chopsticks” like NASA Spaceflight filming disclosed. Booster 7 is notable in that it is the first ready-to-fly first stage of the Starship system.

Booster 7 lifted onto orbital launch mount | SpaceX Starbase

The booster stage, with its 33 Raptor engines, is being prepared before its first test at SpaceX’s Boca Chica facility in Texas orbital test flight, when a second stage or orbital stage of a starship is stacked on top and launched into space. That was recently claimed by SpaceX CEO Elon Musk Starship will be ready for its test flight next monthbut the company has yet to resolve some outstanding regulatory requirements related to its Boca Chica site expansion.

Starship consists of a Super Heavy first stage and a Starship second stage, the latter of which has already undergone a series of flight tests (but not in space). Both stages are designed for vertical landings for the purpose of reusability. For the first spacecraft orbital test flight, however both stages will conduct ocean splashdowns, with the booster conducting a partial return and splashdown in the Gulf of Mexico and the booster conducting a splashdown off the northwest coast of Kauai, Hawaii. At some point the upper school will end up by itself (what it did before), while the booster returns to the launch site and performs one assisted landing on the upholstery; Arms on the starting tower will intercept the descending booster level. Well, in theory.

The prototype of the spaceship booster.

The prototype of the spaceship booster.
photo: SpaceX

This particular prototype, Booster 7, first made its way to the launch pad in March and successfully completed two cryogenic proof tests, but then suffered severe damage during a structural stress test. according to to Teslarati. The booster was taken to the factory for repairs before being pad-rolled a second time in May and undergoing a third cryo-resistance test. After that, the Super Heavy Booster spent about six weeks in the factory before making its final rendezvous with the launch pad.

It’s not yet clear what kind of testing Booster 7 will undergo on the launch pad, or if SpaceX plans to conduct a wet dress rehearsal, loading the rocket with fuel and doing a mock countdown to launch. Right now, the prototype rocket sits atop the launch pad, supported by two giant arms attached to the launch tower, awaiting its fate.

If you stack them on top of each other, These components make up the tallest rocket in the world, standing at 394 feet tall (120 meters). The rocket is expected to carry dozens of passengers and cargo to the Moon and other Solar System destinations such as Mars.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recently has approved SpaceX for its site expansion, allowing the company to get closer to Starship’s orbital launch. But the FAA has given SpaceX a list of about 75 environmental protection measures which it must complete in addition to clearing security hurdles before it can receive full clearance to launch the giant rocket. Aside from the FAA, SpaceX is also facing backlash from the Army Corps of Engineers, who rejected the company’s request for site expansion.

More: The Florida Tower for launching SpaceX spacecraft rockets is taking shape.