SpaceX has stacked a Starship vehicle on the launch pad at its Starbase facility in South Texas for the first time since March.
A Starship upper-stage prototype known as Ship 24 was stacked atop the Booster 7 Super Heavy first stage at the orbital launch pad at Starbase on Tuesday (Oct. 11) for the first time, according to a tweet from SpaceX early on Wednesday (Oct. 12).
Ship 24 was stacked onto Booster 7 using SpaceX’s "chopsticks" system on the Starbase launch tower, forming the full 395-foot-tall (120 meters) Starship system.
Ship 24 and Booster 7 are slated to launch on the first-ever Starship orbital flight, which could take place as early as next month.
The stacking follows a number of static fire tests and other work with Ship 24 and Booster 7 in recent months. A full wet dress rehearsal — a launch simulation that involves fueling the rocket and running through countdown procedures — and a firing of all 33 Raptor engines on Booster 7, could soon follow, according to a Sept. 19 tweet from SpaceX CEO Elon Musk.
Starship 24 and Booster 7 fully stacked on the orbital launch pad at Starbase pic.twitter.com/1VKn6juQorOctober 12, 2022
Starship is SpaceX’s next-generation space transportation system, which uses clusters of methane-fueled Raptor engines. Both the Super Heavy booster first stage and Starship upper stage are to be reusable.
Starship is also the lander chosen by NASA for its Artemis program, which seeks to send astronauts to the moon for the first time since the 1970s.
SpaceX has stacked Starship at Starbase before, most recently in March of this year. That operation involved different vehicles — the Ship 20 and Booster 4 prototypes.
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Andrew is a freelance space journalist with a focus on reporting on China's rapidly growing space sector. He began writing for Space.com in 2019 and writes for SpaceNews, IEEE Spectrum, National Geographic, Sky & Telescope, New Scientist and others. Andrew first caught the space bug when, as a youngster, he saw Voyager images of other worlds in our solar system for the first time. Away from space, Andrew enjoys trail running in the forests of Finland. You can follow him on Twitter @AJ_FI.