SpaceX plant built a 90 meter “high cabin” for the assembly of starships and super heavy boosters


Tencent technology news on August 24, in order to accelerate the construction of starships and super heavy rocket boosters, SpaceX, an American space exploration technology company, is building a new “Highbay” about 90 meters high at its starship factory in Texas.
In SpaceX’s plant in boccachica, Texas, a lot of work is still carried out outdoors and there are few protective measures other than umbrellas, but SpaceX is still trying to find solutions so that the most sensitive work (mainly structural welding) can be protected from weather factors such as wind and rain.
Boccachica is located in the southernmost tip of Texas, only a few kilometers away from the Gulf of Mexico, so it is vulnerable to high temperature, humidity and mosquitoes. In addition, there will be downpours, thunderstorms and even hurricanes on a regular basis.
Initially, SpaceX built a relatively small “windshelter”, but its volume was too small to accommodate the stacking of too large components. Two years later, the “windbreak” was partly used to assemble the nose of the Starship. The nose cones are stacked on four separate steel ring stacks and welded together.
A few months after the triangular “windbreak” was completely completed, SpaceX began to build a larger box building, which was eventually called the “midbay” of the Starship factory“ The “middle module” is about 45 meters high. It is designed to support the assembly of the booster storage tank of the starship with 2-4 steel rings stacked. However, for some reason, the “middle module” seems too short to support the assembly process of the whole starship. When the storage tank parts of the Starship are assembled, they will have to be removed from the “middle cabin” before installing the nose part.
Finally, in July 2020, SpaceX began to assemble a taller “high cabin”, about 81 meters high and 20 meters in diameter, which is enough to accommodate the company’s existing Falcon 9 or falcon heavy rocket assembly, and there is excess space. Of course, more importantly, the construction size of the “high cabin” is enough to support the complete assembly of the super heavy rocket from beginning to end, providing a shelter for the SpaceX team to build the largest rocket booster in history.
As of August 2021, SpaceX’s “middle module” has supported the assembly of 10 starship prototypes, 5-6 propellant storage tanks and several “test tanks”, while the newer “high module” has helped SpaceX build three ultra heavy boosters in 2021. However, at full speed, the “middle module” of SpaceX can only support the assembly of one spacecraft storage tank at a time, while the “high module” can provide at least twice the coverage area, but it seems to be limited to stacking two or three different stacks at the same time (such as booster, Starship or storage tank).
As SpaceX slowly and steadily advances the Starship program and is committed to manufacturing more changing prototypes, it is clear that the company will need to significantly expand its production facilities to produce dozens of starships and boosters expected by its CEO Elon Musk. Although the existing facilities can produce more than a dozen starship prototypes and boosters every year, it will still become the bottleneck of producing a large number of spaceships and boosters in the short term.
In order to solve the production problem, musk said in late July this year that SpaceX was about to start building a higher “high cabin” near the existing “high cabin”. On August 20, SpaceX began to dismantle the existing concrete structure in preparation for the construction of a new “high cabin”. Musk said that the latest “high cabin” of the Starship factory will be about 10% higher than the existing “high cabin”. Therefore, its height can reach 90 meters and its diameter is larger. It can accommodate two side-by-side bridge cranes at the same time.
Thanks to the new design, the new “high cabin” covers a larger area and should provide SpaceX with enough space to assemble four to eight starships or super heavy rocket boosters at the same time. According to SpaceX’s plan, the new “high cabin” may need to be large enough for the company to create the first assembly line really used to assemble starship and super heavy booster, although it will be very different from the existing manufacturing method of starship factory( Tencent Technology (reviser / Jinlu)