Author Topic: Shipping Starships from Boca Chica?  (Read 59136 times)

Online DanClemmensen

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Re: Shipping Starships from Boca Chica?
« Reply #40 on: 01/27/2022 03:41 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.
Beaching a barge on a protected beach is likely to be a problem. I assume the beach is protected as a turtle nesting area. Am I wrong?

Online DanClemmensen

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Re: Shipping Starships from Boca Chica?
« Reply #41 on: 01/27/2022 03:45 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.

I was asking EL_DIABLO about the idea of putting a Dock in BC near the build site. That is a different proposal than the dock 16 miles away in Brownsville.

Offline raivo45

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Re: Shipping Starships from Boca Chica?
« Reply #42 on: 01/27/2022 04:00 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.

I see a lot of people say that it's too far and there's no way SpaceX would transport the vehicles between the Brownsville port and BC...

So I'd like to add that back when the booster still had legs, SpaceX said in the earlier EA draft documents that some missions could require drone ship landing and then the booster would be shipped back to Brownsville port and transported by road to BC.

Offline Zed_Noir

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Re: Shipping Starships from Boca Chica?
« Reply #43 on: 01/27/2022 04:05 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.
Beaching a barge on a protected beach is likely to be a problem. I assume the beach is protected as a turtle nesting area. Am I wrong?

Surely not the entire beach. Just the turtle nesting area, otherwise no one will be allow on the beach during the turtle hatching season.

Offline ninjaneer

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Re: Shipping Starships from Boca Chica?
« Reply #44 on: 01/27/2022 04:28 pm »
It seems a lot of the "just make a few modifications!" ideas are missing two underlying issues:

1) Environmental studies take a long time to finish.

2) The population will tolerate a fair amount of change, but half of the people on the gulf coast are environmentalists and the other half are conservationists.  It's like a Voltron of anger when they work together.

Online DanClemmensen

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Re: Shipping Starships from Boca Chica?
« Reply #45 on: 01/27/2022 05:03 pm »
It seems a lot of the "just make a few modifications!" ideas are missing two underlying issues:

1) Environmental studies take a long time to finish.

2) The population will tolerate a fair amount of change, but half of the people on the gulf coast are environmentalists and the other half are conservationists.  It's like a Voltron of anger when they work together.

Here are the possible shipping methods from the thread-starter post:
Possible methods:
   *launch to orbit. Works for ship but not for the booster, and (apparently) to be licensed for only 5 per year
   *suborbital "hop". Works for both ship and booster, but no evidence for a landing site under construction anywhere except BC
       *Phobos and Deimos are candidates but no evidence that they are being built out for this yet.
   *barge. No evidence for any construction of a dock, and the nearest candidate is about 16 miles away.
   *use a hovercraft over the beach. That's a big hovercraft. No evidence that SpaceX is looking for such a craft.
"Barge" has now split into "Dock at BC" and Dock in Brownsville".
My original question remains: if SpaceX keeps manufacturing SH and SS in BC, then how will they be delivered?

Other posts have commented on the difficulties (permitting or otherwise) for each method.
For each method, there may be objections based on environmental/conservation issues, or on other issues. In my opinion, the biggest environmental objection would be raised against a proposal to dredge a new channel to a dock in BC. The next-biggest objection would be against coming in over the beach with a  barge or to a lesser extent to a hovercraft. That leaves the hop and the dock in Brownsville.

For the hop, environmental objections are centered on the platform and should be minor, since the gulf is littered with thousands of platforms already. The problems will be FAA permission to fly out of BC, which for hops should be minor and from the platform, which is a whole new FAA regime.  For the dock in Brownsville, there should be no new environmental issues, and the issues will center on the road closures and inconvenience to the public of the weekly 16-mile haul of the product.

Online DanClemmensen

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Re: Shipping Starships from Boca Chica?
« Reply #46 on: 01/27/2022 05:11 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.
Beaching a barge on a protected beach is likely to be a problem. I assume the beach is protected as a turtle nesting area. Am I wrong?

Surely not the entire beach. Just the turtle nesting area, otherwise no one will be allow on the beach during the turtle hatching season.
I don't know about the BC beach, but in South Carolina the female turtles come in over a 3-month period and hatchlings emerge 60 days after the nest is laid, so a 5-month period. The entire beach is a turtle nesting area. There are rules about disturbing the moms (no lights on the beach at night), the nests (no digging near a nest) and the hatchlings (no. just no.) With no actual experience with permitting for over-the-beach operations, I am just guessing, but I think it will be very difficult to get permission.

Offline EL_DIABLO

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Re: Shipping Starships from Boca Chica?
« Reply #47 on: 01/27/2022 05:36 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.

Not sure I agree with that timeline. The launch site takes longer to build than the manufacturing site, and it is being built on an active pad which means it will take even longer. Hence why construction on that is starting earlier.

The off-shore platforms are a whole different matter. As I stated, in my opinion, they'll only launch from BC and KSC in the short to mid term. However eventually they'll have to build them if they want to launch very frequently.



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?

As I mentioned in a previous reply I don't think there are any plans to ship anything anywhere anytime soon. What is made in BC will launch from BC and what is made in KSC will launch from KSC. Long term when the off shore platforms will be ready I think they will hop them. If that for whatever reason cannot be done they will be barged out, with edzieba's option being more likely, though I'd like the idea of a channel being dredged in the south bay (environmentalists probably less so). I mostly threw it out to discuss how feasible it would be to get permissions to do so.

Obviously they are just my 0.02 cents, I could be wrong.
« Last Edit: 01/27/2022 05:49 pm by EL_DIABLO »

Offline ninjaneer

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Re: Shipping Starships from Boca Chica?
« Reply #48 on: 01/27/2022 05:52 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.

If you're just shipping giant pieces for integration, you open up new opportunities.  The Mil Mi-26 can carry about 1/4 of a starship by mass.  It's probably as loud as a launch, too.

Online DanClemmensen

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Re: Shipping Starships from Boca Chica?
« Reply #49 on: 01/27/2022 06:06 pm »

As I mentioned in a previous reply I don't think there are any plans to ship anything anywhere anytime soon. What is made in BC will launch from BC and what is made in KSC will launch from KSC. Long term when the off shore platforms will be ready I think they will hop them. If that for whatever reason cannot be done they will be barged out, with edzieba's option being more likely, though I'd like the idea of a channel being dredged in the south bay (environmentalists probably less so). I mostly threw it out to discuss how feasible it would be to get permissions to do so.

Obviously they are just my 0.02 cents, I could be wrong.

In my opinion we have a severe disconnect between the apparently-planned manufacturing rate at BC (my guess: 52 units/yr, a mix of SH and SS)  and the approved launch rate to LEO from BC (5 per year). My guesses are as likely to be wrong as your 0.02 cents.

Would you care to comment on my guesses? do you think the production rate will be less than 5/yr, or do you think SpaceX will get approval for more launches? At one point Elon was angsting because SpaceX needed 20 Starlink-on-Starship launches before the end of 2022.

Offline southshore26

Re: Shipping Starships from Boca Chica?
« Reply #50 on: 01/27/2022 08:19 pm »
Surely not the entire beach. Just the turtle nesting area, otherwise no one will be allow on the beach during the turtle hatching season.

The entirety of the beach from the US border up to the channel is a protected and would be considered "nesting area". Also, building a dock on unprotected beach in that area would most likely require some type of breakwater as the surf there is generally high.

Building a facility at the BC beach just isn't a realistic approach from an environmental and engineering/financial stand point.

Offline Okie_Steve

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Re: Shipping Starships from Boca Chica?
« Reply #51 on: 01/27/2022 08:25 pm »
Rolling vertical to the shipping channel could be timed to occur at night, possibly over multiple days between a set of "way stations" to keep any given closure short. If we assume 7 hours total spread out over a week with a daily closure scheduled for that day's segment between 3AM and 4AM I doubt it would cause too much of a problem for people.

Edit - For that matter, with appropriate security and traffic control is there any reason that other occasional night traffic to the port that might exist could not be allowed to pass by in a timely fashion?
« Last Edit: 01/27/2022 08:30 pm by Okie_Steve »

Offline TomH

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Re: Shipping Starships from Boca Chica?
« Reply #52 on: 01/27/2022 08:41 pm »
The Mil Mi-26 can carry about 1/4 of a starship by mass.  It's probably as loud as a launch, too.

Wildly inaccurate, multiple orders of magnitude difference. I was in the VIP stands when Apollo 13 launched. From 3 miles away my ears ached and the vibrations pounded through my torso like it was a sheet of paper. The amount of energy being released by that chopper is a minuscule fraction of that being burned in a SHLV.

Offline DistantTemple

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Re: Shipping Starships from Boca Chica?
« Reply #53 on: 01/27/2022 09:38 pm »
The Mil Mi-26 can carry about 1/4 of a starship by mass.  It's probably as loud as a launch, too.

Wildly inaccurate, multiple orders of magnitude difference. I was in the VIP stands when Apollo 13 launched. From 3 miles away my ears ached and the vibrations pounded through my torso like it was a sheet of paper. The amount of energy being released by that chopper is a minuscule fraction of that being burned in a SHLV.
errr? Great to hear of such experiences.

However what has it got to do with the quoted post or even the specific quote?
Carrying (pieces of) starships by helicopter, is somewhat different from launching rockets!

Maybe X industries could make a giant quadcopter (like a drone) to lift 200 tonnes to ferry the SS and SH? the downdraft would be outside the radius of the ships.
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Offline ninjaneer

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Re: Shipping Starships from Boca Chica?
« Reply #54 on: 01/27/2022 11:18 pm »
The Mil Mi-26 can carry about 1/4 of a starship by mass.  It's probably as loud as a launch, too.

Wildly inaccurate, multiple orders of magnitude difference. I was in the VIP stands when Apollo 13 launched. From 3 miles away my ears ached and the vibrations pounded through my torso like it was a sheet of paper. The amount of energy being released by that chopper is a minuscule fraction of that being burned in a SHLV.
errr? Great to hear of such experiences.

However what has it got to do with the quoted post or even the specific quote?
Carrying (pieces of) starships by helicopter, is somewhat different from launching rockets!

Maybe X industries could make a giant quadcopter (like a drone) to lift 200 tonnes to ferry the SS and SH? the downdraft would be outside the radius of the ships.

It's a side attack troll.  Quote a roughly accurate metric with a clearly labeled ballpark guess and attempt to discredit an individual by harshly attacking the guess without clearly stating your purpose.  At any rate, the Mi-26 is currently being built for export in a 33 tonne model and they are working on a 40 tonne, so there's a little bit of a gap there.  It's almost the size of starship as is.

Offline edzieba

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Re: Shipping Starships from Boca Chica?
« Reply #55 on: 01/28/2022 07:46 am »
Rolling vertical to the shipping channel could be timed to occur at night, possibly over multiple days between a set of "way stations" to keep any given closure short. If we assume 7 hours total spread out over a week with a daily closure scheduled for that day's segment between 3AM and 4AM I doubt it would cause too much of a problem for people.

Edit - For that matter, with appropriate security and traffic control is there any reason that other occasional night traffic to the port that might exist could not be allowed to pass by in a timely fashion?
No closures, at all. Starship (or Super heavy) road transport does not require any road closures, and has not involved any road closures thus far either. It's an oversized load that travels slowly - and thus may generate tailbacks of slow moving traffic - but that's just unpopular rather than requiring the road to be closed.

New docks on the coast, heavy-lift helicopters, giant custom hovercraft, etc, are simply unnecessary when the road & shipping route are already there. There is no reason to solve non-existent problems.

Offline Cheapchips

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Re: Shipping Starships from Boca Chica?
« Reply #56 on: 01/28/2022 08:02 am »
Here's the route to the docks as soon as the new road is complete. It's desperately unexotic.
 
(gmaps)
« Last Edit: 01/28/2022 08:04 am by Cheapchips »

Offline robot_enthusiast

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Re: Shipping Starships from Boca Chica?
« Reply #57 on: 01/28/2022 09:26 am »
Here's the route to the docks as soon as the new road is complete. It's desperately unexotic.
 
(gmaps)
To add, this route is about the same length as the path they will take between Roberts Rd and LC49, so the transporters have to be able to cover that much distance anyway.

Offline EL_DIABLO

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Re: Shipping Starships from Boca Chica?
« Reply #58 on: 01/28/2022 11:32 am »

In my opinion we have a severe disconnect between the apparently-planned manufacturing rate at BC (my guess: 52 units/yr, a mix of SH and SS)  and the approved launch rate to LEO from BC (5 per year). My guesses are as likely to be wrong as your 0.02 cents.

Would you care to comment on my guesses? do you think the production rate will be less than 5/yr, or do you think SpaceX will get approval for more launches? At one point Elon was angsting because SpaceX needed 20 Starlink-on-Starship launches before the end of 2022.

Agreed, that's where the disconnect is. I think the key word is planned, it doesn't mean they will be producing that many in BC anytime soon, not until they have off shore platforms or are able to get licensed for more orbital launches.

I wouldn't read too much into that, Elon is always pushing super aggressive timelines. The way I see it it was more of a 'rally the troops' kind of message.
« Last Edit: 01/28/2022 12:21 pm by EL_DIABLO »

Offline daavery

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Re: Shipping Starships from Boca Chica?
« Reply #59 on: 01/28/2022 12:21 pm »
`because the booster is wider than the road, all east bound traffic would need to be blocked before the port road for the entire time the transport is on the  road ( maybe 8 hours) because there is no place for traffic or the booster to pull over to all allow passage

 

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