Skip to content

Inside SpaceX New $7 Billion Starship Factory

SpaceX

Many people know about the mighty Starship rocket that SpaceX is building to support Musk’s ambition to turn Mars into a planet for humans. However, not many people know about the huge factory where the company is developing Starship.

The space-focused community that Musk wants to build in Boca Chica Texas! Boca Chica stands by the ocean several miles east of Brownsville, Tex. If SpaceX were to move, acquire and rename the city, it could turn Boca Chica into the Cape Canaveral of the 21st century. In 2012, SpaceX chose Boca Chica, Texas.

But why exactly did Musk choose to set up Starbase in Texas? There are many reasons for this, and one of them relates to the size of the road! SpaceX designed the Falcon 9 from the ground up so that it would be transportable by US interstates. The Falcon 9 is 12 feet in diameter because US freeway lanes are 12 feet wide.

SpaceX develops all of its rocket parts in Hawthorne, California, including rocket engines. After testing all rocket parts, SpaceX transports all Falcon 9 parts, such as the payload fairing, first stage, interstage and booster stage, to launch facilities separately.

When all rocket parts arrive at the launch facility, SpaceX assembles the Falcon 9 for launch. As you might guess, the length and diameter of the Falcon 9 are mostly constrained by the width of US Interstate lanes and the height of the underpass.

But SpaceX’s ultimate goal was not to make this rocket. Their ultimate goal is to make a Mars rocket that you already know as Starship! Unlike the Falcon 9, Starship is 30 feet in diameter. So there’s no way SpaceX can move this rocket from its Hawthorne, CA, factory to the launch facility. Musk knew he had to build his own starship at the launch facility.

It currently has lease agreements and pays millions of dollars monthly to the US government. Musk knew that if SpaceX had a launch site, it would save him a lot of money. So they started looking for a location for the rocket manufacturing and launch facility.

According to Elon Musk, occasional flights over land are fine, but frequent flights must be at least 30 km or 18 miles from the sea and from the coast, mainly because of the noise. Therefore, a launch facility should be near the shoreline and there should be roads. The launch site should also be near the rocket factory. Otherwise, carrying the rockets would be a huge cost burden. Also, the east coast is best for launching rockets into most orbits.

That’s because if a rocket launches east, it can take advantage of Earth’s rotation and save energy! Furthermore, the FAA would never allow rockets to be launched on the ground in the US, unlike China or Russia. SpaceX will never be able to launch from California except in polar and sun-synchronous orbit.

In addition, Texas offered the SpaceX tax exemption. Musk loves tax exemptions. In addition, Boca Chica is mostly inhabited. When developing Starship, SpaceX realized that its operation would pose a security threat to the residents of the village.

So Musk did the only reasonable thing; Buy the whole community, what has SpaceX built into Boca Chica, which Musk is trying to rename Starbase? The facility is made up of two distinct parts; Launch site and manufacturing segment. The two have really parted ways. The former consists of different components. The tank farm consists of a water tank and seven tanks for other items.

There are three LOX or liquid oxygen tanks, two liquid methane tanks and two liquid nitrogen tanks. There are also two horizontal methane tanks on the side of the main tank farm; Their exact size is not known. The water tank is a large cylinder made of stainless steel rings. The other seven tanks are double walled with insulation between them as they are required to hold liquids at cryogenic temperatures.

The internal tanks are built almost the same way SpaceX builds its 9-meter diameter ship and booster tanks, using rolls of 304L stainless steel. These tanks must be able to withstand constant pressure and sedimentation on top of them.

lifetime, so they have extra reinforcement. The outer shells, which measure 12 meters wide, are made of stainless steel rings and painted white for thermal and corrosion protection. There is space between the tank and the shell, to insulate the internal tanks and to keep the cryogenic liquids just below the boiling point.

Full of Perlite Insulation Perlite Insulation is an inorganic material with superb thermal properties and does not support combustion. The water tank has a capacity of approximately 1,000,000 gallons of water. For reference, the water tower at Kennedy Space Center’s LC-39A has a capacity of 300,000 gallons.

Each LOX tank has a volume of 1,450 cubic meters and can hold approximately 1,650 metric tons of liquid oxygen for approximately 4,950 metric tons of oxidizer. Each CH4 tank has a volume of approximately 1,680 cubic meters and can hold approximately 710 metric tons of liquid methane for 1,420 metric tons of fuel.

Lastly, the LN2 tanks have a volume of 1,680 cubic meters each and can hold approximately 1,350 metric tons of liquid nitrogen for 2,710 metric tons. The orbital tank farm can store approximately 4,950 metric tons of LOX, ~1,420 metric tons of methane and 2,710. metric ton liquid nitrogen. The entire rocket requires approximately 1,040 metric tons of CH4 and 3,760 metric tons of LOX.

With these rough estimates, the orbital tank form has enough propellant for only one orbital launch and leaves a margin for potential recycling. The propellant in these tanks would flow through a subcooler next to the tank farm to super-chill the propellants.

These subcoolers use the temperature of liquid nitrogen to cool the propellants so that they are denser, thus packing more energy into the vehicle. After traveling through the subcooler, the propellants will be sent through the GSE bunker and then to the launch table and integration tower.

The launch mount is also where the full Starship stack will sit prior to launch. This 33 Raptor 2 engine should be able to withstand at least 74.4 MN of thrust, depending on the booster configuration. The mount includes critical components such as a hold down clamp, quick disconnect for the booster, and a deluge system for sound suppression. The launch table has 20 different hold-down clamps.

which attach to the bottom of the booster for steady fire and launch from the orbital pad. For launch, these hold-down clamps will be released when all engines on the booster are at nominal thrust. To fuel the boosters before liftoff, the launch table requires a quick disconnect mount, which is on top of the table and will disconnect from the booster around T-0.

QD will help provide CH4, LOX and helium to the booster and supply external power prior to launch. The deluge system will sprinkle water.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.