Capitalism in space: Work at SpaceX’s Boca Chica spaceport in Texas has now definitely shifted away from doing Starship short hops, focusing instead on the first near-orbital flight using both Starship and Superheavy.
Not only is almost all recent work at Boca Chica centered on building the orbital launchpad with its tower for Superheavy, the company has apparently decided to end development of Starship prototypes 15-19, designed for hops only.
The fate of Starship SN15, following its milestone success with a smooth test flight and landing last month, is still unknown. It is likely awaiting preparations to go on display at Starbase. It is already sitting on display stands.
SN16 continues to reside in the High Bay, all but ready for rollout to the suborbital pad. However, that appears increasingly unlikely, as SpaceX focuses on the upcoming orbital attempt from the launch site next door to where SN15 completed its momentous test.
SN17’s fate is known, with sections of what was to become that Starship now observed as being scrapped at the Production Site.
Meanwhile, SN20’s aft dome [intended for orbit] has also been spotted by Mary (@bocachicagal), sporting three mounts for RVacs, indicating SN20 may be the first Starship to fly with both sea level and vacuum optimized engines.
All signs continue to suggest that orbital test flight will occur before the end of the summer.
From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.
Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.
The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.
He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.
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