Author Topic: Shipping Starships from Boca Chica?  (Read 59280 times)

Offline Asteroza

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Re: Shipping Starships from Boca Chica?
« Reply #20 on: 01/26/2022 10:10 pm »
Why not use a hoverbarge to get it out of the estuary?  It's not new technology and doesn't need a channel.  The oil industry is familiar with them.

http://www.hovertranssolutions.com/
Very interesting. Where would this vehicle come onshore and how would it get to a location where an SS or SH be loaded?

They usually just go up a beach, but they tend to deliver things that are not tall. If they can deal with the tipping angle, just pulling up over the beach then hovering down the road would be easiest...

Online DanClemmensen

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Re: Shipping Starships from Boca Chica?
« Reply #21 on: 01/26/2022 10:45 pm »
Why not use a hoverbarge to get it out of the estuary?  It's not new technology and doesn't need a channel.  The oil industry is familiar with them.

http://www.hovertranssolutions.com/
Very interesting. Where would this vehicle come onshore and how would it get to a location where an SS or SH be loaded?

They usually just go up a beach, but they tend to deliver things that are not tall. If they can deal with the tipping angle, just pulling up over the beach then hovering down the road would be easiest...
I meant where, specifically, near the BC factory is this technically possible and also permitted for a hovercraft of this size?

Offline ninjaneer

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Re: Shipping Starships from Boca Chica?
« Reply #22 on: 01/26/2022 10:56 pm »
Why not use a hoverbarge to get it out of the estuary?  It's not new technology and doesn't need a channel.  The oil industry is familiar with them.

http://www.hovertranssolutions.com/
Very interesting. Where would this vehicle come onshore and how would it get to a location where an SS or SH be loaded?

They usually just go up a beach, but they tend to deliver things that are not tall. If they can deal with the tipping angle, just pulling up over the beach then hovering down the road would be easiest...
I meant where, specifically, near the BC factory is this technically possible and also permitted for a hovercraft of this size?

I was going to wait for some boots around the property to chime in with that since they have a better feel for the situation.

Offline spacenut

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Re: Shipping Starships from Boca Chica?
« Reply #23 on: 01/26/2022 11:09 pm »
Why not use a hoverbarge to get it out of the estuary?  It's not new technology and doesn't need a channel.  The oil industry is familiar with them.

http://www.hovertranssolutions.com/

Well, the Boca Chica road ends right at the beach.  A hovercraft could come ashore right there and come right up the road to pick up a rocket, go back to sea.  At sea, they could revert to propeller drive to be less expensive. 

A standard barge can handle 12m in diameter and use the intercoastal waterway to Florida like the Saturn V.  It could dock at the shipping canal.  It is not hard people.  Whichever way is cheaper. 

Offline TomH

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Re: Shipping Starships from Boca Chica?
« Reply #24 on: 01/27/2022 04:54 am »
The skin of the SLS core stage is so thin that the boosters cannot lift it from the bottom at launch. The booster thrust is transferred into an upper thrust beam at the top of the core stage. Nevertheless, the pressurized SLS core is transported horizontally via the Pegasus barge.

I do not understand why a pressurized SH or SS could not also be transported in like manner. Many here claim that they cannot, but I have not yet read an explanation that fully explains why.
It would rely on constant pressurization, but more importantly it would require a massive crane at both ends of the trip and enormous specialty jigs for safely rotating it. It would also make otherwise accessible routes impossible due to the massive turning radius it would have. What problem is transporting it horizontal even trying to solve? It won't fit under powerlines or overpasses vertical or horizontal, so it doesn't make any otherwise inaccessible routes possible.

This makes little sense. The SLS core is almost as big as SH, yet there is no problem. Look at how much infrastructure SX has already built. Why are a couple of cranes and a few jigs problematic?

Why are you talking about power lines, turning radii, and overpasses? There is no need to roll the thing to Brownsville. You just build a dock at BC and transport it to FL on open water.

Online DanClemmensen

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Re: Shipping Starships from Boca Chica?
« Reply #25 on: 01/27/2022 05:59 am »
The skin of the SLS core stage is so thin that the boosters cannot lift it from the bottom at launch. The booster thrust is transferred into an upper thrust beam at the top of the core stage. Nevertheless, the pressurized SLS core is transported horizontally via the Pegasus barge.

I do not understand why a pressurized SH or SS could not also be transported in like manner. Many here claim that they cannot, but I have not yet read an explanation that fully explains why.
It would rely on constant pressurization, but more importantly it would require a massive crane at both ends of the trip and enormous specialty jigs for safely rotating it. It would also make otherwise accessible routes impossible due to the massive turning radius it would have. What problem is transporting it horizontal even trying to solve? It won't fit under powerlines or overpasses vertical or horizontal, so it doesn't make any otherwise inaccessible routes possible.

This makes little sense. The SLS core is almost as big as SH, yet there is no problem. Look at how much infrastructure SX has already built. Why are a couple of cranes and a few jigs problematic?

Why are you talking about power lines, turning radii, and overpasses? There is no need to roll the thing to Brownsville. You just build a dock at BC and transport it to FL on open water.
I have never been to BC, but when I look at a map, I cannot find a place to build a dock. All of the commentary about a dock has been about a location about 16 miles away on the ship channel near Brownsville. To the north of BC there is a big wetland between the ship channel and BC and that wetland is a wildlife sanctuary. To the  south, the Rio Grande is non navigable. To the east, the beach is directly on the gulf and I don't think anyone will will be able to get permission for a dock there for a whole lot of reasons.

Offline ninjaneer

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Re: Shipping Starships from Boca Chica?
« Reply #26 on: 01/27/2022 06:11 am »
Why are you talking about power lines, turning radii, and overpasses? There is no need to roll the thing to Brownsville. You just build a dock at BC and transport it to FL on open water.

The water shimmer you see from aerial and satellite photography doesn't have very much behind it.  NOAA doesn't even consider it water.

Close-up chart (2014): https://charts.noaa.gov/PDFs/11302.pdf
Zoomed out, but newer (2020): https://charts.noaa.gov/PDFs/11301.pdf

Offline robot_enthusiast

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Re: Shipping Starships from Boca Chica?
« Reply #27 on: 01/27/2022 09:04 am »
The skin of the SLS core stage is so thin that the boosters cannot lift it from the bottom at launch. The booster thrust is transferred into an upper thrust beam at the top of the core stage. Nevertheless, the pressurized SLS core is transported horizontally via the Pegasus barge.

I do not understand why a pressurized SH or SS could not also be transported in like manner. Many here claim that they cannot, but I have not yet read an explanation that fully explains why.
It would rely on constant pressurization, but more importantly it would require a massive crane at both ends of the trip and enormous specialty jigs for safely rotating it. It would also make otherwise accessible routes impossible due to the massive turning radius it would have. What problem is transporting it horizontal even trying to solve? It won't fit under powerlines or overpasses vertical or horizontal, so it doesn't make any otherwise inaccessible routes possible.

This makes little sense. The SLS core is almost as big as SH, yet there is no problem. Look at how much infrastructure SX has already built. Why are a couple of cranes and a few jigs problematic?

Why are you talking about power lines, turning radii, and overpasses? There is no need to roll the thing to Brownsville. You just build a dock at BC and transport it to FL on open water.
My point is that there's nothing to gain from using horizontal transport. Vertical transport is easier and has more freedom on the accessible routes. The only potential gain is the ability to go through the Panama canal in order to get to the west coast, but if they're doing low volume polar flights then they could launch from Florida and accept the slight performance hit. If they're doing high cadence polar flights, then it would make sense for them to build a factory on the west coast. There doesn't seem to be any need to ship vehicles from the east coast to the west.

Offline EL_DIABLO

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Re: Shipping Starships from Boca Chica?
« Reply #28 on: 01/27/2022 09:14 am »

I have never been to BC, but when I look at a map, I cannot find a place to build a dock. All of the commentary about a dock has been about a location about 16 miles away on the ship channel near Brownsville. To the north of BC there is a big wetland between the ship channel and BC and that wetland is a wildlife sanctuary. To the  south, the Rio Grande is non navigable. To the east, the beach is directly on the gulf and I don't think anyone will will be able to get permission for a dock there for a whole lot of reasons.

They are wetlands but not a wildlife sanctuary.
« Last Edit: 01/27/2022 09:18 am by EL_DIABLO »

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Shipping Starships from Boca Chica?
« Reply #29 on: 01/27/2022 09:18 am »
I think horizontal transport makes more sense over extreme distances than vertical. Either way, you'd want the stage to be at least partially pressurized during transport to maintain rigidity.

Horizontal enables putting a covering over the stage during transport, which is useful for protecting from sea spray (important even for stainless steel).
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Offline edzieba

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Re: Shipping Starships from Boca Chica?
« Reply #30 on: 01/27/2022 12:43 pm »
What is the point of shipping them from BC to KSC? It seems quite clear to me they'll manufacture locally in KSC.
Eventually, yes. But it's going to take time to both build up the infrastructure to build vehicles in, the supply chains to provide parts and material, and to hire and train the standing army to work there. On the other hand, BC has been doing that for years.

On the launch site site, LC-39A is cleared for build and has little prospect of not receiving a launch license once applied (FONSI already in hand), and no state-mandated public access concerns to limit flight rates. It also sits in the middle of an established orbital launch complex with existing range safety, tracking, telemetry, support personnel, etc, in place and a well-oiled machine for supporting Falcon 9 launches. LOX tankage is already present, so only LCH4 tankage needs to be built out (and at the BC launch site, it's possible that the LCH4 tankage built may need repair or replacement before it can be activated). Construction is actively under way, though of course the BC site has the advantage of construction mostly being complete.

The upshot is a few months down the road there is the prospect of having a production site in Texas pumping out vehicles but unable to fly them, and a launch site in Florida ready to fly vehicles but with the nearby factory not yet ready. In that situation, a no-up-front-cost option (literally, until you call up Roll-lift and stamp out a contract you are not putting any money down on assets like enormous floating launch complexes) to get ships at A to the launch site at B is a no-brainer.

When it comes to 'hop transport', there are to big barriers: first, the enormous cost of building both the floating launch complexes themselves (when looking at X, and then X-but-on-a-ship, the X-but-on-a-ship will probably have an extra zero stuck on the end of the price tag) and the supply chain to get propellants to them, they are hardly less vulnerable to permitting than any other launch site. A launch license will still need to be issues, so an environmental assessment will still need to be conducted, and you're back to square one in terms of timeline even if you ignore the time needed to build out the platforms themselves. "But they're only short hops"/"but the propellant load is small" etc do not matter one jot: the launch license for Astra's Rocket 3 and for Starship Super Heavy are the same launch license. And with the low flight rates (even the most optimistic annual rates for full-bore Starship are well below even private aviation let alone commercial) and a wholesale revamp of launch licensing just having been concluded, that situation is not likely to change any time soon.

Online WiresMN

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Re: Shipping Starships from Boca Chica?
« Reply #31 on: 01/27/2022 01:38 pm »
I would think that BC could pump out sub assemblies ready for stacking easier and faster than trying to come up with the infrastructure for moving a completed SH or SS. Assembling a High bay does not appear to take long if you have ordered it ahead of time. It is also not too hard to peel off some of the BC workforce to get things started. They could have this all completed long before there is a pad or integration tower.


Offline edzieba

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Re: Shipping Starships from Boca Chica?
« Reply #32 on: 01/27/2022 01:52 pm »
I would think that BC could pump out sub assemblies ready for stacking easier and faster than trying to come up with the infrastructure for moving a completed SH or SS. Assembling a High bay does not appear to take long if you have ordered it ahead of time. It is also not too hard to peel off some of the BC workforce to get things started. They could have this all completed long before there is a pad or integration tower.
That still requires:
- A string of oversize load transporters (rings and domes are still very large)
- An entire high bay to be constructed first
- A workforce who can assemble vehicles to be on site

It'd be easier to move a ring former and rolls of stainless stock from BC to the cape than to move completed rings or ring segments.

Online DanClemmensen

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Re: Shipping Starships from Boca Chica?
« Reply #33 on: 01/27/2022 02:56 pm »

I have never been to BC, but when I look at a map, I cannot find a place to build a dock. All of the commentary about a dock has been about a location about 16 miles away on the ship channel near Brownsville. To the north of BC there is a big wetland between the ship channel and BC and that wetland is a wildlife sanctuary. To the  south, the Rio Grande is non navigable. To the east, the beach is directly on the gulf and I don't think anyone will will be able to get permission for a dock there for a whole lot of reasons.

They are wetlands but not a wildlife sanctuary.
OK, back to the original question: How will SpaceX ship SH and SS this year? building a dock at BC will require dredging a channel from the ship channel through the mud flat, and this will require all sorts of permits and approvals. Has anyone seen any evidence that such an approval process has been started?

Online DanClemmensen

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Re: Shipping Starships from Boca Chica?
« Reply #34 on: 01/27/2022 03:10 pm »
I would think that BC could pump out sub assemblies ready for stacking easier and faster than trying to come up with the infrastructure for moving a completed SH or SS. Assembling a High bay does not appear to take long if you have ordered it ahead of time. It is also not too hard to peel off some of the BC workforce to get things started. They could have this all completed long before there is a pad or integration tower.
This thread is about shipping SS and SH from BC, not about manufacturing anywhere else. If they continue to do manufacturing in BC they need to ship from BS, regardless of whether or not the are also manufacturing elsewhere.  At BC, they must either ship or cease manufacture of assembled SS and SH.
*If they intend to cease assembly, then why are they building a new bigger vertical assembly bay that will more than triple their assembly capacity?
*If they intend to continue manufacture, then how will they ship?

Offline Steve D

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Re: Shipping Starships from Boca Chica?
« Reply #35 on: 01/27/2022 03:22 pm »
With the permits they have they cant launch the full stack. But what about hopping starship out to a barge waiting off the coast then taking it to florida on the barge? For super heavy they would need to hop it to one of the platforms, then transfer it to a barge for transport to florida.

Offline Zed_Noir

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Re: Shipping Starships from Boca Chica?
« Reply #36 on: 01/27/2022 03:28 pm »
<snip>
OK, back to the original question: How will SpaceX ship SH and SS this year? building a dock at BC will require dredging a channel from the ship channel through the mud flat, and this will require all sorts of permits and approvals. Has anyone seen any evidence that such an approval process has been started?
No need to dredge. Just beached a barge at high tide at the beach at the end of highway 4. Load the Starship or the Super Heavy onto the barge with a crane during the following low tide. Float the barge out at the next high tide maybe with the help of tugs along with dumping ballast water. Of course a temporary roadway extension of Highway 4 is required for the crane and the Starship transporter.

Offline edzieba

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Re: Shipping Starships from Boca Chica?
« Reply #37 on: 01/27/2022 03:29 pm »

I have never been to BC, but when I look at a map, I cannot find a place to build a dock. All of the commentary about a dock has been about a location about 16 miles away on the ship channel near Brownsville. To the north of BC there is a big wetland between the ship channel and BC and that wetland is a wildlife sanctuary. To the  south, the Rio Grande is non navigable. To the east, the beach is directly on the gulf and I don't think anyone will will be able to get permission for a dock there for a whole lot of reasons.

They are wetlands but not a wildlife sanctuary.
OK, back to the original question: How will SpaceX ship SH and SS this year? building a dock at BC will require dredging a channel from the ship channel through the mud flat, and this will require all sorts of permits and approvals. Has anyone seen any evidence that such an approval process has been started?
- Dock at Brownsville port: check, already leased on south side near the new South Port Connector Road
- South Port Connector Road: mostly check, was due to be opened at the end of 2021
- Boca Chica Blvd.: also check, still exists, runs from junction with South Port Connector Road straight to the manufacturing site
- Contract with company specialising with moving large heavy objects over land and sea: Check. Roll-lift do that as their bread and butter, and their SPMTs have been moving Starships and Super Heavies for years now
- Water access to LC-39 from either the Atlantic or the Intracoastal Waterway: check. route is via Port Canaveral all the way to the turning basin, where a dock already exists for offloading large rocket bodies.
- Road access from the turning basin to LC-39A: Check, Saturn Causeway was resurfaced recently, and stretches alongside the Crawler way all around to the far side of LC-39A, bypassing the HIF blocking the ramp the the main pad.

No need for new docks, hovercraft, wetland dredging, etc, the route already exists.

Online DanClemmensen

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Re: Shipping Starships from Boca Chica?
« Reply #38 on: 01/27/2022 03:38 pm »
With the permits they have they cant launch the full stack. But what about hopping starship out to a barge waiting off the coast then taking it to florida on the barge? For super heavy they would need to hop it to one of the platforms, then transfer it to a barge for transport to florida.
A hop to a platform is my personal favorite. If the platform is used for SH, it would also be used for SS. SS cannot land on a barge: it needs a Mechazilla. If you can get to the platform, the "ship from BC" problem is solved and you can then ship from the platform by barge, hop, or full-up launch to LEO.

BUT: you need a platform, and SpaceX apparently wants to be in series production by H2 2022. So, is there any indication that a platform is currently under construction for completion in that timeframe?

Offline mmeijeri

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Re: Shipping Starships from Boca Chica?
« Reply #39 on: 01/27/2022 03:38 pm »
Do any of our intrepid on-site informants know the current status of the connector road? I haven't been able to find more recent information than a newspaper article from early December that said they were ahead of schedule.
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