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Update on Starship/Superheavy work at Boca Chica

Link here. As noted in yesterday’s quick links, Starship prototype #28 has been rolled to the launchpad area. The update at the link also notes that Superheavy prototype #10 is also there now, with both being prepared for final testing before launch. The article also notes that this testing phase will be “condensed,” suggesting SpaceX wants the third orbital test launch to take place as quickly as possible. A week after the mid-November test flight Musk said he thought the company would be ready for that third launch within three to four weeks. It appears the company is close to meeting that target.

The article also included this important detail:

Elon Musk recently posted a picture of the High Bay and ships 28, 29, 30, and 32 on X. In this post, he indicated that these were the last of the Version 1 of Starship. It’s important to note that Ship 31 is in the Rocket Garden at this time and is included as a Version 1 ship.

Later on, he added that Version 2 would have better reliability, more fuel capacity, and reduce the dry mass. So far, there have been no confirmed sightings of Version 2 hardware, but SpaceX has already scrapped parts of S33.

This fact means that SpaceX has four to five Version 1 Starships that it wants to fly quickly in order to obtain test data. It has to use them to get them out of the way to fly Version 2. This means that, given the freedom to operate as it wishes, the company would likely be doing launches almost monthly in 2024, a prediction that seems confirmed by where things stand now at Boca Chica. SpaceX will likely be ready to launch Starship #28 and Superheavy #10 soon, if not by the end of the year by January almost certainly.

Finally, these facts show that should no launch occur at that time, and be delayed into February, March, April, or even later, the cause will not be SpaceX, but the paper-pushers at the FAA and Fish & Wildlife.

We already know from a recent GAO report that the FAA’s previous mishap investigations of the previous two Starship/Superheavy orbital launches were simply photocopies of SpaceX’s investigation. That report made it clear that the FAA does no investigations of its own, on any launch mishap.

Thus, when SpaceX says its investigation is complete and it is ready to launch, any further delay by the FAA is simply intransigence within the federal government.

As for Fish & Wildlife, any delay is pure red-tape, being used to harm SpaceX for political reasons. We have almost three-quarters of a century worth of data at Cape Canaveral that an active spaceport does no harm to wildlife, and in fact helps it thrive by preventing development across a large preserve. Fish & Wildlife’s own investigation into the first launch confirmed this fact, documenting no significant environmental damage. And we know the second launch did even less harm, its launchpad deluge system working as designed.

None of these facts matter to the paper-pushers in Washington, or to the politicos in the White House. I predict that the third orbital launch will occur no earlier than March, two to three months after SpaceX announces it is ready to go, as these government agencies slow-walk their rubber-stamp launch approvals.

Genesis cover

On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.


The print edition can be purchased at Amazon. Or you can buy it directly from the author and get an autographed copy.

The ebook is available everywhere for $5.99 (before discount) at amazon, or direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit. If you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and the author gets a bigger cut much sooner.

The audiobook is also available at all these vendors, and is also free with a 30-day trial membership to Audible.

"Not simply about one mission, [Genesis] is also the history of America's quest for the moon... Zimmerman has done a masterful job of tying disparate events together into a solid account of one of America's greatest human triumphs."--San Antonio Express-News


  • Ray Van Dune

    Big article in the paper yesterday – a free overnight software update designed to prevent drivers from spoofing Tesla’s driver attention safeguards is called a “Recall”! As in “All Teslas Recalled!”

    What drivel. You can’t trust anything the MSM says about Tesla or SpaceX!

    Or anything else, come to think of it!

  • Steve Richter

    What is the chance of debris from an exploding Starship landing on one of the Caribbean islands? When IFT2 Starship blew up, was it east of any Caribbean land masses? I read that someone photographed the ship from Puerto Rico.

    Just speculating that if something falls anywhere near an island that the US government would permanently shutdown launches from Boca.

  • pzatchok

    Some of those picts look like sci-fi book covers from the 50’s.

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