Following the groundbreaking success of the second test flight, SpaceX is actively preparing for the third integrated test flight (IFT 3) with the deployment of Ship 28 and Booster 10 to the launch site. This new phase demonstrates SpaceX’s continued commitment to space exploration.
Ship 28 moved to the launch site on December 14, 2023 to complete engine testing prior to IFT 3. After two cold tests at Massey, Ship 28 spent 2.5 months maintaining and upgrading engines. Booster 10 with its Hot Stage Ring was also moved to the site in preparation for launch.
The test plan for Ship 28 and Booster 10 is expected to be shortened and may include a cryo-proof test, a spin-prime test and a pre-flight static engine test. SpaceX aims to minimize the duration of the pre-flight test campaign, in line with its future goals for key missions such as NASA’s Human Landing System (HLS) campaigns.
Launch site improvements
After the second test flight, renovation and strengthening work was carried out at the launch site. Improvements include upgrades to the orbital tank farm with the installation of new subcoolers and pumps to speed fuel loading. These improvements should reduce fuel loading time from 90 to 45 minutes.
SpaceX is already preparing for future flights, with Ship 29 and Booster 11 scheduled for the fourth test flight and Ship 30 and Booster 12 scheduled for the fifth. These vehicles are currently being prepared and tested at Massey.
SpaceX’s tireless efforts to prepare Ship 28 and Booster 10 for its third integrated test flight underscore its commitment to innovation and efficiency in space exploration. With these advanced preparations and continued improvements to the launch site, SpaceX continues to push the boundaries of space technology