SpaceX’s upgraded Starship factory is starting to take shape in South Texas
After a few months of foundation work, SpaceX has begun assembling the first section of a vast new Starship manufacturing building that will eventually replace a series of tents also known as “suspended structures.”
SpaceX and its contractors began erecting these tents in late 2019 after a series of generally successful tests involving Starhopper – a steel rocket built on unprotected concrete ground – and shortly before a less successful attempt to test the first truly Starship-esque prototype. Inside and around these new tents, SpaceX took steps to dramatically improve its Starship production methods and assembly facilities, eventually settling on a process that is still very familiar more than two years later. .
Still, in typical SpaceX fashion, the company seems to have moved beyond those tentpoles and has set its sights on building an all-new Starship manufacturing facility — traditional roof and all — that will likely replace most or all of the temporary structures. of Starbase in the near future.
As previously discussed on Teslarati, documents submitted to a Florida water management agency have already revealed plans for a similar East Coast Starship factory and shed light on what the first unofficially named “Starfactory” in the world might look like. Texas.
“According to RGV Aerial Photography, SpaceX…aims to replace all Starbase tents with a single 300,000 square foot (~28,000 square meter) building that will be about 18 meters (60 feet) tall and likely to be about 800 feet ( 250 m) long and 400 feet (120m) wide. Starbase’s tents are about the same height, but their tent roofs mean that only a fraction of that height can be used for ring work and only a fraction of the floor space for higher nose work. .
By comparison, a 300,000 square foot building would have almost two and a half times as much covered floor space as Starbase’s three tents – all of which can theoretically be used for the nose ring and section assembly. . In fact, with an essentially flat 18-meter roof, SpaceX could reasonably extend most “stacks” by a ring or two, reducing the number of sections (and therefore stacking operations) needed to assemble a ship or a booster.
Teslarati.com – March 4, 2022
A month and a half later, SpaceX (or its contractors) began raising the first steel girders of the new building and made significant progress in just days. The first vertical beam was erected on April 19. About 48 hours later, several roof beams measuring over 200 feet (60 meters) wide were assembled from smaller parts and installed on top of the vertical beams of the structure. As it stands, the structure likely represents a good front profile view of the first of three new Starship production buildings that will eventually come together to form a giant, monolithic rocket factory.
Notably, the building’s skeleton appears to be closer to 40-50ft tall instead of the planned 60ft – short enough that it likely won’t allow SpaceX to increase the height of the various sections of stacked steel rings. which make up the most of Starship and Super Heavy. It is possible that another level will be added for utilities and overhead cranes, but the frame being installed will likely cap the height of the standard five-ring Starship sections (9m/30ft tall). It’s not impossible for the yet-to-be-built sections of the new factory to be taller, but that would go against SpaceX’s established production method, in which Starship sections move through multiple tents throughout. along assembly and equipment.
Construction of the new factory began next to existing Starbase tents. As work progresses and the setting is transformed into an actual building, it remains to be seen if SpaceX will use the first building to test a number of production upgrades, fill it with new Starship production equipment. according to the same paradigm as the existing methods, or will physically relocate. an existing assembly line inside.