After being idle for months, SpaceX has started making significant modifications to its Starship launch pad in Florida.

Four of the launch site’s six legs, which supported the orbital launch mount, were removed over the course of the last week for unspecified reasons. The launch facility had lain idle for about a year.

With the addition of the chopsticks designed to lift Super Heavy rockets and Starships for integration prior to launch, SpaceX completed the tower’s stacking in January 2023, having started in June 2022.

Up until the last few weeks, SpaceX appeared to be taking it slow as it carried out three Starship test flights from Starbase and collected information on the impact of 33 Raptor engines roaring to life at the launch pad. In contrast to Starbase, where every tiny modification is publicized through numerous YouTube feeds, the Starship pad at LC-39A is being constructed out of sight, therefore any minor adjustments were missed.

The nearly completed orbital launch mount legs were installed prior to SpaceX’s Starship first flight in Texas and the discovery of what occurs when 33 Raptor engines ignite at the ground without a water suppression system.

It’s possible that SpaceX may build a flame trench or fortify the launch mount’s base with a water suppression system akin to what they use at Starbase, and that it would be better to start from scratch rather than try to work around the current legs.

Whatever SpaceX chooses to do will become clear in the upcoming months as Starship continues to fly test missions from Starbase and approaches flight certification. At Cape Canaveral, SpaceX is expected to have many launch sites, possibly including SLC-37B, where the United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy is now getting ready for its final mission and will no longer be using the pad.

Topics #Florida #SpaceX #Starship