|Current Location:||Boca Chica, Texas|
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 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
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.