Recent reports revealed that SpaceX would be starting to move its Starship spacecraft and prototype Starhopper from its current facility in Boca Chica, Texas over to their base in Florida.
Upon the announcement that SpaceX will be expanding its Spaceship development over to their Florida base in Kennedy Space Center, which is more than 20 miles away, speculation over the space exploration company’s plan to move this infrastructure arises.
Starship itself is a 384-foot reusable two-stage rocket touted to be taller than the Statue of Liberty. Although the spacecraft is being constructed by parts, they still stand at staggering heights and weight.
“They’re moving very fast,” said Dale Ketcham, vice president of government relations at Space Florida, the state’s commercial space development agency. “This is actually getting closer to what Elon got into this business, to begin with. This is a fundamental infrastructure to get to Mars, the early stages of it,” Ketcham added.
According to documents recovered by News6, SpaceX’s Starship will commence transportation away from its Boca, Chica base this September via barge that will cross through the Indian River and cruise to Launch Complex 39, where Pad 39A is located — SpaceX’s current flagship launchpad.
The cargo transport company, Roll-Lift USA, will tow the spacecraft from its current position through State Road 528 Beachline Expressway, according to a permit application submitted to the Florida Department of Transportation. Additionally, the file indicated that they would be moving a “tank” to the Kennedy Space Center.
The Starhopper, a smaller but still large mockup prototype of Starship, will also be transported from Boca Chica across vacant land, south of Coastal Steel to Grissom Parkway on a 15-axle truck and trailer.
After traveling east on Grissom Parkway for about half a mile, the spacecraft will be towed south on Industry Road towards the Beachline Expressway.
Relevantly, a test flight is scheduled for the Starhopper on August 21 from its current home in Texas near the border city of Brownsville at an altitude of about 650 feet (200 meters), according to SpaceX Founder, Elon Musk.
The same report indicated that electrical crews had been observed to be raising power lines higher above the road along the proposed 16-story spaceship’s route.
Information indicated in the cargo company’s permit application said that a make-shift barge pulled by two tugs would be docked alongside an existing seawall, which trucks parked nearby will secure the barge using mooring lines.
Meanwhile, the cargo company will also be securing the integrity of the seawall by placing matting laid on the ground, which the spacecraft should be able to roll over to the barge.
The cargo company will be responsible for any damage to the seawall or other state-owned property, according to the permit application, and a Florida Department of Transportation spokesman confirmed no agency dollars would be spent on the project.
Starship will then be able to enter Kennedy Space Center by the water next to the Vehicle Assembly Building and Launchpad 39A after it makes its cross from the Indian River.
That so-called “turn basin” is where other large rocket components have arrived at KSC by barge, including the Space Shuttle’s external fuel tanks that were built in Louisiana.
Notably, Starship is a central piece in Musk’s interplanetary space travel ambitions as well as U.S. space agency NASA’s goal to send humans to the moon again by 2024. The Starship rocket is expected to launch up to 24 times a year from SpaceX’s current flagship launchpad 39A, which makes it ideal for the company to move there.
Currently, there is also another Spaceship spacecraft that’s also being constructed in SpaceX’s facility in Florida. Initially, Musk wanted the development of the two spacecraft in different locations through an internal competition to yield positive and faster results regarding mechanisms for structures, propulsion, and avionics that will allow Starship to safely land on, and return from, a variety of surfaces and environments.