SpaceX shows off Super Heavy boosters 'for the next 3' Starship flights (photos)

photo looking up at four huge stainless-steel cylinders inside an open-air high bay.
SpaceX shared this photo of four Super Heavy boosters in the "megabay" at its Starbase site via X on Feb. 2, 2024. (Image credit: SpaceX via X)

SpaceX wants to launch its giant Starship vehicle often over the coming months, as a new photo makes abundantly clear.

In a post on X this afternoon (Feb. 2), SpaceX shared photos of the "megabay" at its Stabase site in South Texas, the center of Starship manufacturing and launch activities. 

The building is jam-packed with towering stainless-steel cylinders — Super Heavy vehicles, the first stage of SpaceX's Starship megarocket — which rise nearly to the roof.

"Super Heavy boosters for the next three flights, with a fourth ready to stack, in the Starbase Megabay," SpaceX wrote in the post.

Related: See stunning photos and video of Starship's 2nd launch

Another shot of the Super Heavy boosters, with some people in it for scale. (Image credit: SpaceX via X)

Starship consists of two elements, both of which are designed to be fully and rapidly reusable: Super Heavy and a 165-foot-tall (50 meters) upper-stage spacecraft called Starship.

When fully stacked, Starship stands about 400 feet (122 meters) tall. It's the biggest and most powerful rocket ever built, capable of launching up to 150 tons of payload to low Earth orbit, according to SpaceX's spec sheet.

Starship isn't up and running yet, however; it has launched just twice to date, on test flights in April and November of last year. Both ended in powerful explosions. But Starship made enough progress on the second liftoff — acing a full-duration Super Heavy burn and successfully separating its two stages, for example — that success seems like a real possibility on flight number three, which may be just around the corner.

Indeed, SpaceX aims to launch the test mission this month, provided it secures a launch license from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration in time. (The FAA is overseeing an investigation into what happened on the November flight.)

SpaceX thinks that Starship's combination of power and reusability will lead to huge breakthroughs in exploration, allowing humanity to put down stakes on the moon and Mars.

NASA sees promise in the vehicle: It selected Starship to be the first crewed moon lander for its Artemis program, which aims to establish a permanent human presence on and around Earth's nearest neighbor by the end of the 2020s. Starship will put astronauts down on the lunar surface for the first time in 2026, on the Artemis 3 mission, if all goes according to plan.

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Mike Wall
Senior Space Writer

Michael Wall is a Senior Space Writer with and joined the team in 2010. He primarily covers exoplanets, spaceflight and military space, but has been known to dabble in the space art beat. His book about the search for alien life, "Out There," was published on Nov. 13, 2018. Before becoming a science writer, Michael worked as a herpetologist and wildlife biologist. He has a Ph.D. in evolutionary biology from the University of Sydney, Australia, a bachelor's degree from the University of Arizona, and a graduate certificate in science writing from the University of California, Santa Cruz. To find out what his latest project is, you can follow Michael on Twitter.

  • George²
    Which one is for Starship v2?
  • orsobubu
    no way they will launch men on the moon in 2026, i also doubt they landed at all in 1969... in two years, after the apollo 1 disaster, they redesigned entirely the spacecraft and landed (highly suspicious speed), and now they are supposed to go again in two years, but: they succesfully launched the rocket 20 times before apollo 11, today, zero; also, the financial, geostrategic, political and public support for the mission is hugely lower today; US empire is declining and full with menaces looming at the horizon, both at home and abroad, comparing with a total dominance in the sixties (the cold war was only an ideology made up to confuse and control people, USA and URSS were competitors in exploiting respective influence spheres but never real enemies); mission systems are way more complex today; also the lunar lander configuration is almost totally unknown today, while back then it was on the making since 1963 at least, but if you dig in the process, you discover really strange steps in the development of the LEM, with sudden leaps to the final spacecraft, in a very different fashion from the slow and smooth iterations typical of other nasa ships. So my best guess is that they landed some robotic apparatuses, maybe moving rovers too, but never sent humans to the satellite.
  • billslugg
    "I also doubt they landed at all in 1969..." orsobubu

    I knew a guy, Charles Conrad, who stepped onto the Moon on November 19, 1969. He was a good friend of mine and I don't believe he was lying.
  • Torbjorn Larsson
    Nice progress!

    George² said:
    Which one is for Starship v2?
    None of those, they match the remaining Starship v1.

    orsobubu said:
    no way they will launch men on the moon in 2026, i also doubt they landed at all in 1969
    According to plan, the crewed Artemis 2 launch will take place in late 2025, the Artemis 3 crewed lunar landing in 2026, the Artemis 4 docking with the Lunar Gateway in 2028, and future yearly landings on the Moon thereafter.
    The contracted batch of 15 Saturn Vs was enough for lunar landing missions through Apollo 20. Shortly after Apollo 11, NASA publicized a preliminary list of eight more planned landing sites after Apollo 12, with plans to increase the mass of the CSM and LM for the last five missions, along with the payload capacity of the Saturn V.
    We'll see how fast they will land on and then "launch on" the moon. Delays are common in large projects, building projects average 60 % delays, and Artemis is already delayed 2 years.

    It is an observed fact that NASA landed on the Moon twice 1969, and in total 7 times between 1969 - 1972 before US decided that the program was too costly. Your personal doubt, which is actually a common conspiracy theory you have engaged in for your own reasons, do not come into this.

    And notably, this conspiracy theory that involves a large organization of nearly 20,000 people is not only unsupported as all conspiracy theories - that's how they are made - and goes against observed facts - which is all too common - but it is also laughable. A science paper estimated that an organisation 1/4th that size could manage to keep a secret for a year maximum. It has been 50 years!

    But the exciting thing with Starship is not the "been there, done that" Moon old hat project. It is the manned Mars capability, among other neat things.
  • orsobubu
    I recommend you watch the film American Moon, where dozens of contradictions about the Apollo missions are meticulously exposed; I don't say with certainty that they didn't go, I give it as a concrete possibility. In my opinion they only landed robotic probes and automated rovers, whose tracks can be seen taken from the lunar satellites, while the astronauts would have been parked in Earth orbit at most. And in any case, even if they had landed, there is sufficient evidence to indicate that part of the photo/video footage must have been produced on the ground, for various logistical and technical feasibility reasons.

    Weirdly, in the aforementioned film, what in my opinion is the most powerful indication of a cheat is missing, namely the too low height of the leaps on the surface, and in any case the inconsistency of the extension of these leaps between the different shots.

    The two-year delay you mention is too little in my opinion, because originally the scheduled date for a landing was 2020; and in fact Artemis 1 has been 6 years late since 2016, making it easy for the landing time to extend beyond 6 years. The mere fact that space-x is involved as an essential piece of the mission makes a further delay almost a certainty for me, because Elon Musk's entire character is built on cheating in my opinion.

    On the question of the organization of the scam, the answer is simple, because the almost total majority of the companies and workers involved would have carried out their work without knowing anything, in watertight compartments, and only the directors, with strictly military support staff , would have taken control of the missions, in separated locations, whose manipulated data streams would then have been transmitted to the official channels; this is also talked about in the film I mentioned.

    After all, there are various examples of conspiracies of this type, just think of the Volkswagen diesel engine scandal, which only a handful of managers knew about, while the workers and technicians involved in the design, production, control and repair chain had no knowledge; it was enough to take control of the measuring equipment to falsify the results without the knowledge of anyone around the world.
  • orsobubu
    very interesting, thank you, it must have been exciting to listen to him. I'm not saying with certainty that they didn't go, I just have many doubts. If they went there, I believe that part of the photo/video material was certainly reconstructed on the ground, due to the too numerous and obvious contradictions. It would be nice if you wrote here some of Conrad's sentences that particularly impressed you from his memories about the mission.
  • billslugg
    No, I am not going to exert the tiniest bit of effort to try and validate your absurd claims. The burden of proof is entirely on you. Good luck.
  • orsobubu
    okay but you didn't understand that I was really interested in knowing some interesting anecdote that came from an original source, there was no instrumental intent
  • billslugg
    Why would you care to hear stories of a liar?
  • Unclear Engineer
    My theory is that orsobubu is not real.