July 28, 2021

SpaceX Super Heavy Booster 3 rolled to launch pad

On July 1, 2021, SpaceX’s Super Heavy Booster 3 was rolled to the launch pad at Boca Chica for testing. Credit: Elon Musk / SpaceX

SpaceX’s Super Heavy Booster No. 3 stacked at the company’s high bay facility made an appearance last week. The vehicle was transported down Boca Chica’s Highway 4 on July 1, 2021, to a modified section of Pad A, where it is expected to begin cryo testing.

Known as Booster No. 3, or BN3, this engine-less pathfinder vehicle is set to undergo a series of pressure tests in the upcoming weeks at the company’s South Texas launch facility to evaluate the integrity of the tank itself.

The launch tower for SpaceX's Starship Super Heavy system nears completion with the seventh of eight expected section stacked. Credit: Elon Musk / SpaceX

The launch tower for SpaceX’s Starship Super Heavy system nears completion with the seventh of eight expected section stacked. Credit: Elon Musk / SpaceX

While BN3 is busy pathfinding, common dome sections of BN4, a flight-capable booster, are currently being put together in the High Bay.

The company had originally hoped to make an orbital flight with both Starship and a Super Heavy booster in July. However, according to a tweet from Elon, it seems SpaceX will be happy if both Starship and Super Heavy are stacked by the end of the month, which seems to be a much more realistic expectation.

The company plans on mating Starship 20 (SN20) and BN4 at some point later in the month. These two vehicles are expected to make up the first orbital flight test of the Starship system.

Before a full-duration flight test can take place, the company’s orbital launch tower will need to be completed. Currently, the pad seems to be well on its way up, as the seventh section of the behemoth launch tower was lifted into place last week.

At this rate, the launch tower might be finished before the end of the month, with a crane and lightning protection tower still needing to be erected before the pad’s completion.

Three new Raptor engines also made their way home to Boca Chica this week, including the first two engines that will make up the propulsion system for the Super Heavy booster.

The current cadence of engine production includes initial fabrication at the company’s headquarters in Hawthorne, California, followed by testing in McGregor, Texas, to final delivery at Boca Chica.

Tweet via Cosmic Perspective

Tagged: BN3 BN4 Boca Chica Lead Stories SN20 SpaceX Starbase Starship Super Heavy

Cullen Desforges

Having a life-long interest in crewed space flight, Desforges’ passion materialized on a family vacation in 1999 when he was able see the launch of Space Shuttle Discovery on STS-96. Since then, Desforges has been an enthusiast of space exploration efforts. He lived in Orlando, Florida for a year, during which time he had the opportunity to witness the flights of the historic CRS-4 and EFT-1 missions in person at Cape Canaveral. He earned his Private Pilot Certificate in 2017, holds a degree in Aviation Management, and currently works as an Operations Analyst in the aviation industry in Georgia.