Photo credit: Elon Musk
|Current Location:||Boca Chica, Texas|
|Area:||Suborbital Pad A|
Originally starting life as “BN2”, it was later renamed to Booster 2 before being changed again to Booster 3.
The first parts for BN2 were spotted in early 2021. On 18 March after BN1 had been stacked, Elon Musk announced that BN2 would be the first Super Heavy booster prototype that would actually fly.
On 31 March Elon Musk announced that BN1 would be scrapped in the future after serving its purpose, instead BN2 would have changes incorporated into it and they would aim to get it onto the orbital launch pad with engines by the end of April, and possibly be orbit capable.
At some point during its construction BN2 was planned converted from a full Super Heavy booster to a test tank withNASASpaceFlight reporting that BN2 had been relegated to become another production pathfinder, while BN3 scheduled to perform the first test flight of a Super Heavy booster with a filing with the FCC for the planned test flight showing it would launch from Boca Chica and then perform a partial return, touching down 32km off shore.
This changed in late May following a tweet from Musk referring to “Booster 2”. At the same time reports emerged that parts from BN2 and BN3 would be stacked together into a single booster, which would then be used for the orbital test flight. A new test tank, BN2.1 had been in construction since late April. In the early hours of 15 June Musk posted on twitter that stacking the Aft section was underway.
According to Elon Musk BN2 is not destined for orbital flight, but will be moved to Suborbital Launch Pad A once it has been completed. In preparation for this, an adaptor was mounted on the launch pad so that the booster could be placed on it.
By late June the designation had changed again, according to NASASpaceFlight: “Booster 2 (including BN3 parts) is now called Booster 3, we’ve been informed (and informed as in by people high enough for us to go with it despite that month old Elon tweet 🙂 ).”
The stacking of Booster 3 was completed on 29 June, marking the second time a Super Heavy booster had been built. Elon Musk later confirmed the new name as Booster 3, when he tweeted that Booster 4 would be the first to fly while Booster 3 would be used for ground tests. There would be construction and design changes from Booster 3 to 4, as it had been difficult to build.
Shortly after being stacked the rollout of Booster 3 appeared to be imminent with Musk tweeting that “Super Heavy moves tomorrow”. On 1 July Booster 3 was moved out to the launch site and mounted on Suborbital Pad A for testing. After several days of work Booster 3 was disconnected from the crane on 5 July, followed by an ambient pressure test on 8 July. The next day on 9 July Booster 3 was put through an ambient pressure test which it passed successfully.
In the early hours of 11 July, engineers were spotted installing a raptor engine on the booster, and a second engine was brought to the launch site for integration as well. A successful cryogenic test took place on 12 July. By 13 July three Raptor engines had been installed (57, 59 and 62).
The first ever static fire of a Super Heavy took place at 7:05pm local time on 19 July, with three engines firing for a few seconds before shutting down successfully. Between 22 July and 23 July the three raptor engines were removed from the Booster and transported back to the production site.
All dates & times are local unless otherwise indicated.