Starbase continues to be in the midst of preparing for Starship’s next test flight, following the events of Booster 7 and the ascent of Ship 24 into the South Texas sky.

The launch site modifications are the main element of the watch, as it prepares for the installation of steel plates and a water deluge system that is intended to mitigate the damage sustained during the maiden launch.
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Work around the orbital launch site has been underway for weeks after Booster 7 excavated a crater and sent concrete flying during its launch.

While changes to the upcoming launch include launching in just 2.5-3 seconds of ignition, as opposed to the six seconds seen during the maiden launch, a water-cooled steel plate system will be installed to protect the base of the pad.

Progress toward that goal was seen when the crane used to install the over 30.5-meter (100-foot) long rebar cages for the foundation was dismantled.

Aerial photo of the Starbase orbital launch site taken May 26. (Credit: Nic Ansuini for NSF/L2)

There was also excavation work and sheet piling installation all around the ground under the Orbital Launch Support (OLM). These sheet piles protect the area from collapse as the excavation work progresses, adding strength and support as the rebar is installed where the incoming water pipes will be laid.

Preparations for installing the new deluge system are estimated to be about halfway through. Elon Musk was quoted last week as saying the updates should be completed in about a month.

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Preparations are also underway for the installation of an additional tank next to the existing deluge tanks. While the tank’s purpose is not fully known, that tank did make it to Brownsville.

The vertical ground support equipment’s existing tanks, visibly damaged during the starship’s first test flight in April, are being rammed over, with the dents pulled in by a crane and chains.

Ship 25, known to be next in line to fly following Ship 24’s launch and disappearance, is at suborbital pad B in preparation for its upcoming static fire test. A clue as to when this test will take place comes from road closures authorized by Cameron County to overpressure warnings given to Boca Chica residents.

Finally, at suborbital pad A, teams are pulling out the umbilical connections and other tubes. It is currently unknown why this is being done, but SpaceX is likely preparing the pad for further testing.

As the wait continues for Booster 9 to reach the modified launch site, Booster 10 has been moved to the rocket garden. Unlike most moves in this area of ​​Starbase, Booster 10 has not been retired. The move may be related to the possibility of preparing the Massey test site for cryogenic booster testing after Ship 25 was tested there recently.

Space is at a premium at the production site, with numerous ships and boosters lined up in various states of assembly. However, storage and processing capacity is expected to be increased, first with the construction of the new mega bay.

The prefabricated pieces of this new bay have been moved into place. Additionally, the LR11000, often seen in NSF flyby videos at the SpaceX Roberts Road facility in Florida, is now at Starbase to support construction of this new Starship computing bay.

A potential new parking lot or rocket garden extension has also been seen next to the new bay under construction. Also, a new turntable has arrived at the starbase, which is used to rotate the starship barrels and vehicles during welding.

As a result of a high production rate, a large number of vehicles and sections were built. Vehicles that might otherwise be ready for testing must be stored as existing test facilities are not ready to receive them.

An example of this is ship 26, which has its engines but has been waiting at the engine stand on Remedios Avenue. SpaceX is likely to want to finish testing Ship 25 and work on the OLM before Ship 26 is launched for its test activities.

Another activity that will increase Starship’s production cadence is the planned expansion of the Star Factory building. As part of this expansion, the soil fabrication building has already been removed.

The windbreak (low span) was demolished. It was dismantled this week to make room for the Star Factory expansion.

The windbreak was built to protect the welding work on Starhopper and Starship Mk1 from the wind, when Starbase was starting to be built.

After the construction of the medium and high bays, the windbreak was primarily used to work on the nose and sections of the payload bay.

More insights may be coming soon, with Elon Musk promising a new Twitter Spaces update that’s expected in the next few days if the previously stated timeline holds.

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For live updates, follow NASA SpaceFlight Twitter account and NSF Starship forum sections.

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(Main image: The OLM at the starbase. Credits: Nic Ansuini for NSF/L2)

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