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Old 22-10-2020, 09:50 PM
glend (Glen)
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glend is offline
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Lake Macquarie
Posts: 6,165
Originally Posted by Startrek View Post
I’m amazed how the majority of Starship is assembled , joined , welded etc.. out in the open under the hot gulf sun , wind , dust and so on .....
During project Apollo, Stages 1, 2 , 3 , the IU , the escape tower , the service module , the command module and the lunar module were all manufactured in clean , sterile space factories around America , wrapped and sealed against the elements , brought to the Cape in special ships and the “Guppy” and assembled in the VAB which was an environmentally controlled clean atmosphere ( the biggest building on the planet at the time )
Maybe it’s because Apollo was a government funded project and Starship is a private funded project so money is tight ??
Any thoughts on the above observation
I do not believe money is tight for Elon Musk, he is throwing heaps at Starship development. The NASA model had build facilities scattered all over the US to placate Congressional members who voted for funding, hence big over heads on transport and assembly. In relation to seemingly casual construction, I admit the Starship has a steam punk look about it, almost an HG Wells illustration. However, the ring segments are all robot welded on big machines to very close tolerances. They are stacked three or four high in segments, again done inside a tent fabrication building. The segments are then stacked inside the mid bay building, so not much really done in the open. You would have seen the steps the welders take to block the wind (and oxygen) from any work they do in the open, and they use Argon gas to shield the work. There are onsite welding inspectors and certification people, who do not work directly for SpaceX, but are contracted for quality control. I believe they xray the welds on every ring section. Some equipment, like the engines, the engine mount thrust puck assembly, the fuel down pipes, landing legs, etc are manufactured elsewhere, likely Hawthorne, California, and the engines come from the Texas plant, so some distribution of manufacturing.
It''s a different way if working, granted, but Musk has been very clear that this is rapid prototyping, and he does not expect a final design and production process until Starship SN20. Luckily SpaceX is a private company, with good cash flow coming from its reusable launch vehicles, to fund this development. Once Starship becomes operational the cost per lifted ton will drop yet again, putting further pressures on SpaceX commercial competitors. I don't think Musk worries about competition, only about staying ahead of them.

There is an interesting article here on SpaceX development of new welding processes:

Last edited by glend; 22-10-2020 at 10:02 PM.
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