SpaceX has used its 460-foot “Mechazilla” tower’s pair of enormous “chopsticks” to grab its latest Starship prototype, called Ship 20, bringing the corporation one step closer to its first orbital test flight later this year. Starship and its massive launch system will be launched from the tower, which will also serve as a capturing device. During liftoff, the arms are designed to grip around either side of the nearly 400-foot Starship-and-booster stack, ensuring each of their safe return.
Engineers progressively hook the chopsticks to the heat shield tile-covered spacecraft, as seen in a time lapse shared by NASASpaceFlight’s Michael Baylor. “Its chopstick time!” exclaims the narrator. Baylor penned the piece. Onlookers are now anticipating that SpaceX would use the chopsticks as a lift to position the prototype on top of its orbital-class Super Heavy rocket called Booster 4 later today.
However, we have yet to hear definitive confirmation that such an attempt is in the works. Elon Musk, the CEO of SpaceX, stated last week that he will offer a long-awaited update on Starship on Thursday, along with a full stack. It’s also worth noting that precisely connecting the launch stack to the robot arms is nothing compared to grabbing a gigantic spacecraft as it lands.
SpaceX moved the enormous grabbing arms for the first time last month. Engineers have been stress-testing the mechanism since then by suspending ballasts in the form of large water bags from the chopsticks. If all goes according to plan — and authorities approve — SpaceX could be sending its Starship spacecraft into orbit for the first time. Given the sheer number of Raptor rocket engines involved – a single orbital-class Super Heavy booster has 29 Raptor engines — the potential of another disaster is greater than ever. Needless to say, we’ll be keeping a close eye on things.
Those who were paying attention during the Monday night premiere of Katy Perry and Alesso’s music video for “When I’m Gone” might have noticed an intriguing cameo: SpaceX’s Starship. Katy Perry may be seen on a payphone with someone before heading away towards a row of what appear to be Starships – SpaceX’s huge prototype spacecraft — with a Boston Dynamics robodog in tow in the futuristic-themed film.
While it hasn’t been officially verified, it’s almost probable that the ships were inspired by the Starship. Katy Perry has a long history of supporting SpaceX and Elon Musk. She’s even performed before a SpaceX launch in the past, albeit the flight was ultimately canceled due to weather.
Furthermore, the models in the video had a shape that was strikingly similar to Starship’s. If that wasn’t enough, she was accompanied by a robodog that looked awfully like SpaceX’s genuine robodog “Zeus,” which has been known to guard the company’s Texas launch complex. It’s fascinating to watch Katy Perry pay homage to the aerospace industry, and it’s yet another sign that space exploration is currently experiencing a new Golden Age in pop culture.