As part of the Starship program, SpaceX began trying earlier prototypes in late 2019 and early 2020, and lost three vehicles during various proof tests. In May, the company successfully tested an entire tank division of its Starship (SN4) vehicle for the first time with a single Raptor engine. It was later lost due to a problem with the ground systems.
Then, in August, and again in September, it flew two different vehicles – SN5 and SN6 – for short trips to 150 meters. These flying obstacles looked like cans of flying spray paint as they soared over the coastal plain of Texas, but they provided valuable experience for the company’s engineers, who learned to control the Raptor’s engine in flight and pushed pressure limits on the fuel tanks.
Since then, work has continued on developing the SN8 to take on a much higher flight. For this purpose, SpaceX needed to add the large flaps to the tank and nose cone section. This vehicle is very similar to what the final spacecraft would look like. It will eventually have six Raptor engines. This will include three engines optimized for propulsion at sea level, and three other engines with larger nozzles optimized for pressure in the vacuum of space.
The Starship aims to serve as a reusable top stage as part of SpaceX’s next-generation launch system. This will also include a large missile called Super Heavy, which will propel the Starship into orbit. SpaceX employees at the Boca Chica worksite have begun assembling the first Super Heavy test vehicles, which will likely undergo an iterative design process like the Starship, which has included some test failures along the way.
The combined group of the missile and the upper stage of the spacecraft may attempt an orbital flight as soon as next year. At a hypothetical Mars Society meeting on Friday, Elon Musk, the company’s founder and chief engineer, said he was confident the company would reach its orbit with the Starship in 2021 “by 80 to 90 percent”.
SpaceX is relying on Starship to replace its ascended Falcon 9 rocket, which in just a decade has become the most experienced missile in the United States, with 95 launches. The Starship will do overhead cargo missions, and eventually, SpaceX, and Amal, large crews to the Moon and Mars. NASA has awarded the company an initial contract of $ 135 million to study astronaut landings on the Moon as part of its Artemis program.
Listing image by NASASpaceflight.coim
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