SpaceX has released a video that showcases the two key components of the Starship launch vehicle, the mode of transportation slated to take the first humans to Mars.
Elon Musk's company took to its Twitter account on October 24 to share an awesome video of the Launch and Catch tower nicknamed "Mechazilla" using its "chopstick" arms to lift Ship 24 on top of Booster 7, which occurred on October 20. The two components that makeup Starship, Ship 24 and Booster 7, complete the 394-foot-tall rocket.
Ship 24 measures 164 feet long, and Booster 7, or Super Heavy, comes in at a whopping 230 feet long. Together they create Starship, which SpaceX is currently preparing for its very first orbital test flight, hence the stacking. Elon Musk's company is currently in deep preparation for the first orbital test flight, and if all testing goes well, the company may conduct the first orbital test within the next couple of months.
As briefly mentioned in the SpaceX video caption, Mechazilla will act as a launch and catch structure. The idea behind the monolithic structure is to provide support for Starship during its launch as well as its landing, with the chopstick arms slotting directly under the "grid fins" of Booster 7. Additionally, Mechazilla will be a key component in quick turnaround launches for Starship as the structure will be able to move the booster/spacecraft on and off the launch site relatively quickly, removing the need for transportation.
SpaceX's Falcon 9 is known for very quick repeated launches, but when landing back on Earth, it requires landing zones out at sea, meaning the rocket then needs to be transported back to Starbase. Mechazilla will bypass this requirement with an even bigger rocket if everything goes to plan.
So, how far away is Starship's first orbital test launch? SpaceX still has some hefty developments to overcome as the company is yet to perform a static fire test on all 33 of Booster 7's Raptor engines, with the most that have been successfully tested so far being 7. Notably, none of these static fire tests occurred while Ship 24 was attached to the booster. Only time will tell.