KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. – Long before SpaceX can fly to Starship on the moon or Mars, a spacecraft prototype must be moved from its Cocoa construction site to the Kennedy Space Center for testing.
SpaceX representatives declined to answer News 6 questions about how the private company would take the spacecraft more than 20 miles between the two facilities or when the relocation would take place.
However, reports obtained exclusively by News 6 show that in September the 180-foot-tall spacecraft could be towed along State Road 528 Beachline Expressway before being put on a barge on the Indian River for on freight at Launch Complex 39.
Cargo transportation company Roll-Lift USA recently filed a permit application with the Florida Department of Transportation seeking to transfer a "tank" to KSC over a two-week period in September.
A diagram attached to the application indicates the cargo is the SpaceX Starship, which is currently being built in several segments at a steel facility on Cidco Road in Cocoa.
Another Starship prototype is also undergoing testing at a facility in Boca Chica, Texas. Starship's "hipper" recently fired its engines in the first test last month. Another hop test could happen this week, according to SpaceX founder Elon Musk.
According to state records, the prototype of the Cocoa Starship was driven across vacant land just south of Coastal Steel to Grissom Parkway in a 15-axle truck and trailer.
After traveling east on Grissom Parkway for nearly half a mile, the spacecraft was towed south on State Road toward the Beachline Expressway, records show.
News 6 recently observed electrical personnel raising power lines higher on the road along the proposed 16-story spaceship route.
While law enforcement temporarily blasted several roads and area contacts, records show that Starship was traveling east on SR 528's Westbound lanes for nearly 2 miles.
After crossing the U.S. 1, the aircraft will exit SR 528 on a small, unnamed island on the Indian River that serves as an easy access road.
[READ: Report details Starship launch, landing plan at Kennedy Space Center]
According to the permit application, a barge pulled by two tugs will be docked along with an existing seawall. Trucks parked on the winch will soon be able to secure a barge using recovery lines.
The spacecraft prototype was rolled over the barge over matting laid to protect the ground, state records indicate.
The freight company was liable for any damage to the seawall or other state property, according to the permit application, and a Florida Department of Transportation spokeswoman confirmed that no agency dollars were spent on the project .
When secured on a boat, records obtained by News 6 suggest Starship can be carried from the Indian River to the Banana River via the Canaveral Barge Canal, followed by a 15-mile journey north. in KSC.
Starship enters the Kennedy Space Center by water next to the Vehicle Assembly Building and Launchpad 39A, according to a recently released report on NASA's environmental impact.
The so-called "turn basin" is where other large rocket components reach the KSC via barge, along with the Space Shuttle's external fuel tanks built in Louisiana.
At 180 feet, the Starship will be slightly taller and wider than the shuttle fuel tanks.
SpaceX did not disclose what kind of flight tests the Starship protection went through once it arrived at the Kennedy Space Center.
In a tweet last month, SpaceX founder Elon Musk indicated that both Starship protypes could be ready to "fly" in September or October.
Hans Koenigmann, SpaceX's vice president of mission, said Monday at a forum by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics that SpaceX is planning more progressive "hops" at the Boca Chica site and plans to fly Starship "soon." But he is hesitant to put a specific date to completion.
"They work as fast as they can't, but I still don't know," Koenigmann said.
Musk has announced that SpaceX will provide an update to the Starship Saturday program.
Eventually, SpaceX plans to mount Starship on top of a large booster rocket called Super Heavy, powered by 31 Raptor enginers, creating a 400-foot-tall spacecraft. This is SpaceX's fully available spacecraft designed for human and spacecraft launches on the moon and Mars.
SpaceX plans to land at Starship in Landing Zone 1 and 2 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and the Super Heavy will be held during a droneship in the Atlantic Ocean a few miles offshore.
According to an environmental impact report, SpaceX eventually plans to launch the spaceship nearly 24 times a year.
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