SpaceX to Replicate Starbase, Build Multiple Starship Launch Pads in Florida – BoilingNews

Less than two weeks after CEO Elon Musk revealed that SpaceX has once again started building a Starship launch site on Kennedy Space Center’s existing LC-39A platform, NASA has unveiled the company’s plans for an entirely different Starship launch site. , just a few miles to the north.

Known as Launch Complex 49 (LC-49) and located where NASA once considered building LC-39C, a third Saturn-class pad to match 39A and 39B, NASA now says SpaceX plans to develop the site into a dedicated Starship facility. launch pad. The piece of land NASA considered LC-49 in 2017 is about a mile northwest of NASA’s LC-39B Space Launch System (SLS) pad and 3 miles northwest of LC-39A, which has SpaceX. leased since 2014 and launched since 2017. Unlike 39A, however, SpaceX has a huge amount of work — and major environmental assessments — ahead of it to turn LC-49 into a site capable of launching a rocket more than twice as powerful as Saturn V.

As of today, “LC-49” is a largely random dotted line on a map. Located a few thousand feet south of the fondly named Mosquito Lagoon Aquatic Preserve and Canaveral Seashore National Park, the site encompasses a variety of wild wetlands and is completely undeveloped. Although the country is considerably wetter, the land that SpaceX hopes to develop is actually quite similar to the location where Starbase’s Starship launch facilities are now located in Boca Chica, Texas. Prior to the arrival of SpaceX, the area was an empty tidal flat on the coast.

To turn such a fragile and unstable area into an orbital launch site, SpaceX transported thousands of tons of soil in trucks, which then lay in a pile for three years, “charging” or compressing the ground below. Ironically, while SpaceX did built a relatively small sub-orbital launch pad where it was too high, the company built the first orbital Starship launch pad a little to the east, where no such preparations were made. That bodes well for the speed at which SpaceX could potentially build LC-49 from scratch, though it’s likely to be a significantly greater challenge.

The potential location of the LC-49 is marked here. (NASA + Google Maps)

Because NASA’s proposed LC-49 site is basically swamp and wetland, SpaceX will have to create the ground on which any planned Starship launch site will stand. It’s possible that soil addition will be necessary — and possibly on an even larger scale than what SpaceX did in Boca Chica. However, since SpaceX didn’t even use that extra land to build the orbital half of the path in the end, it’s possible that SpaceX will be able to do it again with less time-consuming construction methods. If SpaceX more or less replicates an orbital launch site similar to Starbase’s, the pad could be ready to launch 12-18 months later. NASA and SpaceX will need to complete environmental assessments along the way, but given the planning work NASA has already done over the decades, it’s possible that SpaceX could begin building LC-49 — which could take one or more years — well ahead of that process. completely.

No less intriguing is NASA’s implication that SpaceX is simultaneously preparing to expand a facility it leases elsewhere at Kennedy Space Center. SpaceX is currently used to process and store Falcon boosters, fairings and upper stages and has cleaned up a lot next to that hangar which is about the same size as the entire Starbase plant in South Texas Starship. The obvious implication: SpaceX plans to build both and launch Starships from multiple launch pads in Florida.

Just a few miles south, CEO Elon Musk says SpaceX has resumed work on a separate Starship launch pad on the Pad 39A site after it halted construction last year to focus on South Texas. SpaceX chose to completely scrap the unfinished launch site it had built, freeing up the space for the construction of a new and improved version of Starbase’s orbital launch site. All things considered, SpaceX is now simultaneously building two orbital Starship launch pads (one on Starbase and one on 39A) and plans to build two or three more (a second on Starbase and at least one or two on LC-49).

SpaceX to Replicate Starbase, Build Multiple Starship Launch Pads in Florida