There’s still no word from the FAA, but SpaceX has been full of activity and now is taking on a small but significant redesign for Starship.
Starbase SpaceX has continued stacking, testing and preparing at its Boca Chica location.
On August 17th SpaceX lifted S20 onto one of the suborbital launch mounts prior to testing with preflight tests including cryos and static fires before attaching it to booster 4.
Though Musk announced via twitter that there is an issue with the Starship design saying “BTW, there’s a slight error with forward flap design. Moving section is needed for control, but passive section is counter-productive, as it pushes nose backwards.”
According to Musk, SpaceX will shrink the forward flaps, and bring them closer together and to the tip of Starship’s nose while angling them toward the ship’s leeward side to improve movement and reduce and remove undesirable aerodynamic characteristics like the “aerocovers” that cover the flaps preventing superheated plasma and gas from reaching sensitive components. The same tiles that the SpaceX thermal protection team just completed the installation of.
The facility is also already preparing for the second orbital launch of Ship 21 and Booster 5, and requested permission from the FCC to communicate with a Starship orbital prototype during testing at the Boca Chica site with a start date of September 16th. It’s unclear how long this redesign will take.
Firefly Aerospace Tests Alpha Launch Vehicle
Meanwhile, Firefly Aerospace, a private American aerospace firm based in Austin, Texas, that develops small and medium-sized launch vehicles for commercial launches to orbit, performed a static fire test of the Alpha launch vehicle Wednesday on its Vandenberg launch pad. The fully-fueled, flight-ready vehicle fired its first stage engines for fifteen seconds.
They went to Twitter to make the announcement that “the test was successful and clears the way for Firefly to make its first launch attempt, currently scheduled for September 2.”
According to the Firefly co-founder, as they prepare for their inaugural launch with a recent addition of 75 million dollars in funding, pushing them “just over a billion dollars” in total funding, they plan to “execute a lot of the main milestones for their Blue Ghost lunar lander program.
It’ll be interesting to see where everything lands.