Ship 24

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Photo credit: SpaceX

Overview

Type: Prototype
Class: Starship
Status: Testing
Current Location: Boca Chica, Texas
Area: Suborbital Pad B
Year Built: 2022

History

Construction

The first part of Ship 24, a common dome was spotted by Nic Ansuini on November 25, 2021. On January 3, 2022 a common dome was observed being sleeved, but with no methane header tank. When asked if that meant the header tank would be located in the nosecone, Elon Musk responded with “yes”.

February 25 saw stacking operations for Ship 24 commence. A potential payload dispenser was spotted on March 9, being fitted to what is believed to be the nose cone section for Ship 24. The nose cone barrel was observed on March 10. As of March 24 the Thermal Protection System tiles were still being applied to the nose cone.

Chris from NASASpaceFlight announced on March 24 that a previously seen “cargo door pathfinder” had been assigned to the nose cone section of Ship 24, with the first planned orbital flight likely to carry a payload to orbit. The tank section of Ship 24 was in the Mid Bay by March 28, while the nose cone was being worked on in one of the production tents.

NASASpaceFlight has documented a number of design changes to the Starship, including:

  • The aft section has been reduced by one ring to a four high stack (quad)
    • The quick disconnect has been moved up one ring
    • The connection mechanism has been reversed; previously Booster 4 had small connectors that Ship 20 slid onto. Ship 24 now has the connectors instead.
    • The thrust puck has been redesigned, possibly to accommodate the new Raptor 2 engines.
  • The common dome section gains one ring, becoming a a four high stack.
    • The methane header tank that was previously situated here has been removed, and is now positioned in the nose cone
    • The LOX tank vents have been redesigned
  • The forward dome section has been reduced by one ring to a three high stack (triple)
  • The nose cone barrel section gains one ring to become a five high stack.
  • The nose cone production technique has been changed to a stretch form method, now requiring two rows of panels to produce
    • The methane header tank has been positioned in the header
    • It has been observed that there are no RCS thruster ports

The nose cone was moved out of a production tent on April 3. The aft section which had been stacked onto Booster 8 was destacked, while the LOX tank section was moved into the High Bay on April 5.

April 8 and 9 saw a lot of activity, the tank section was moved out of the High Bay and shifted to the Mid Bay, while the nose cone was moved to the High Bay. The payload section was moved to the High Bay before being stacked on the nose cone during the night.

On May 7 Ship 24 was prepared for stacking, as the body of the ship was moved to the High Bay before being lifted and moved later during the day. The next day on May 8 the nose section was stacked on the body, marking the assembly of the first Ship that will attempt an orbital flight.

In a video that Tim Dodd posted of the tour of Starbase he went on with Elon Musk, Musk described the cargo section of Ship 24 as akin to a “pez dispenser”. The Starlink satellites would be held in a rack stacked vertically in the fairing, and as the satellites were “low profile” they only needed a small door to exit from, while the fairing could be partially pressurised as well. An aft flap was fitted to Ship 24 on May 16.

Ship 24 was rolled to the launch site on May 26, arriving successfully and was positioned near the Orbital Launch Mount where it was connected to the cryogenic station in preparation for testing. The next day on May 27 testing commenced with an ambient pressure test, during which several thermal tiles were observed falling off. Following the test a bent pipeline was removed from the ship.

The first cryogenic pressure test took place on June 2, and the next day on June 3 the ship was moved towards Suborbital Pad A. After another 24 hours the ship was then lifted onto the pad, and placed onto a thrust ram for additional tests. Following this move a second cryogenic test took place on June 6. The following day a third cryogenic test took place.

After completing three tests, Ship 24 was rolled back to the production facility on June 9 so that it could be fitted with its raptor engines. A device that will load the Starlink V2 satellites into the ship was observed being tested on June 30.

On July 2, the official SpaceX twitter account tweeted an image showing the installed engines on Ship 24, while two days later Elon Musk tweeted a photo of Ship 24 where commentators noted that it had been prepared for rollout, possibly as early as July 5. Nic Ansuini captured a photo showing workers placing a SpaceX logo decal on the side of the ship, while a “S24” decal was also visible.

Over the night of July 4/5, Ship 24 was transported to the launch site. Parked near Suborbital Pad B, it will be prepared for its testing campaign before launch. Ship 24 was lifted onto Suborbital Pad B on July 6, and preparations for its static fire testing immediately commenced.

Testing

On July 9 a SpaceX filing to the FCC was found, according to Michael Baylor’s analysis:

  • After launch the Booster would perform either a partial return, or a full return and catch attempt at the launch site
  • Starship would reach an altitude of 250km, before doing a powered reentry and splashing down near Hawaii
  • Starlink terminals would be utilised for “high-data-rate communications”, particularly during re-entry.

Ship 24 successfully underwent spin prime testing on July 18 for all six raptor engines. More testing followed on July 20 when the ship underwent an igniter test, followed by two spin tests shortly after. An additional two spin tests took place on July 21.

A static fire test took place on August 9, the same day that Booster 7 performed a static fire on the orbital launch mount.

Milestones

All dates & times are local unless otherwise indicated.

Date Type Location
May 8, 2022 Construction Boca Chica, Texas
Ship stacked.
May 26, 2022 Moved to Pad Boca Chica, Texas
Moved to the Orbital Launch Mount.
June 2, 2022 Cryogenic Pressure Test Success Boca Chica, Texas
June 6, 2022 Cryogenic Pressure Test Success Suborbital Pad A, Boca Chica, Texas
Mounted on the thrust ram.
June 7, 2022 Cryogenic Pressure Test Suborbital Pad A, Boca Chica, Texas
Mounted on the thrust ram.
July 5, 2022 Moved to Pad Boca Chica, Texas
Moved to Suborbital Launch Pad B for testing.
August 9, 2022 Static Fire Success Boca Chica, Texas

Location History

Location Date From Date To
Production Facility (Boca Chica, Texas) November 2021 May 26, 2022
Launch Facility (Boca Chica, Texas) May 26, 2022 June 4. 2022
Suborbital Pad A (Boca Chica, Texas) June 4. 2022 June 9. 2022
Production Facility (Boca Chica, Texas) June 9. 2022 July 5, 2022
Suborbital Pad B (Boca Chica, Texas) July 5, 2022 Present


Related

More Information

UTC Time

Friday, 30-Sep-22 11:11:49 UTC

Boca Chica Local Time

Friday, 30-Sep-22 06:11:49 CDT