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Update on SpaceX’s Super Heavy booster

Capitalism in space: According to this update on SpaceX’s Super Heavy booster, the first prototype is now stacked as two complete tank sections that only need to be welded together.

While a good amount of work still remains to weld the two halves together and connect their preinstalled plumbing and avionics runs, those tasks are largely marginal and will tweak the massive steel tower that’s now firmly in one piece. Comprised of 36 of the steel rings also used to assemble Starships, the first Super Heavy prototype – serial number BN1 – will stand roughly 67 meters (220 ft) tall from the top of its uppermost ring to the tail of its soon-to-be-installed Raptor engines.

At that height, Super Heavy BN1 is just 3 meters (~10 ft) shorter than an entire two-stage Falcon 9 or Falcon Heavy rocket – the second and third tallest operational rockets today. Of course, Super Heavy is just a booster and SpaceX says the rocket will stand at least 120m (~395 ft) tall with a Starship upper stage and spacecraft installed on top, easily making it the tallest (and likely heaviest) launch vehicle ever assembled.

The report also adds SpaceX’s confirmation that this prototype will never fly, but will be used solely for ground tests. It is the second prototype that will do the first short test hops, hopefully sometime this summer.

Pioneer cover

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.

Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit. And if you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.

2 comments

  • Jeff Wright

    Hmm…I bet Super-Heavy as an SSTO-refueled and sent to Mars-might just fit flush with the grid fins as a ramp. Smaller landers maybe using that as an elevator exhaust pit silo deal? Artwork please.

  • Jeff Wright

    Inside a lava hole I mean.

  • mpthompson

    My concern is how fragile these tanks must be while unpressurized. A decent gust of wind could seemingly cause major problems as I believe the rings comprising the tanks are about 4mm or so thick. I guess SpaceX will learn a lot just from moving this initial tank down the road to the launch site.

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