SpaceX is seemingly renovating the former Falcon 9 first stage test stand at their McGregor, Texas test site. Recent aerial photos show that workers have installed scaffolding near the stand, and have removed the large tower formerly used to access stages on the stand. SpaceX is also continuing work on a new second stage test stand.
Test stand renovation:
The former first stage test stand – nicknamed the “tripod”, after its shape – was built by Beal Aerospace. Beal owned and operated the McGregor facility from the late ’90s until 2000 when the company closed its doors.
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After SpaceX took over the facility in 2003, they planned on modifying the tripod to support the first stage of the Falcon 5 – a planned medium-lift launch vehicle. Eventually, SpaceX cancelled the Falcon 5 in favor of a larger launch vehicle – the Falcon 9.
On top of the tripod, SpaceX added a tall tower with retractable floors to give engineers access to the entire first stage. Later, a large, water-cooled flame diverter was added at the base of the stand to help divert the exhaust of the first stage’s engines.