As part of its rapid development in Boca Chica, Texas, Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX) is inching closer to firing up the first stage booster of its Starship launch vehicle platform. Starship is SpaceX's super heavy lift rocket that is designed to not only replace the company's existing Falcon 9 lineup but also conduct interplanetary missions.
It will use 33 rocket engines to power the first stage booster, and on this front, SpaceX chief Mr. Elon Musk shared a new image earlier today that showed all of these engines installed on the rocket. This marks a crucial step toward testing the booster that is already the center of attention for a highly anticipated orbital test flight which will set the ball rolling for SpaceX's future.
SpaceX Completes Installing All Raptor Engines On Booster That Might Be Tested Soon
Starship, the rocket, consists of two parts. At the bottom is the Super Heavy booster that will use 33 engines to lift it off the ground and on the top is the Starship spacecraft that will separate once the full rocket has left Earth's gravity.
Right now, the heat is around Starship booster 7, which is SpaceX's prototype currently being tested for its ability to withstand operational pressure. Now, in a new image that was shared earlier today, Elon Musk revealed that SpaceX seems to have finished installing all of the 33 engines on the rocket.
Installing the engines is the next step in preparing the booster for a crucial test that will test its fuel and propulsion systems. As opposed to other rockets, which use two to four engines, Starship's systems are vastly more complex due to the number of engines present. However, SpaceX has plenty of experience in this area as well, as it is the first and only entity in the world that has regularly flown a single rocket booster with nine engines - a design aspect also praised by NASA.
Installing the engines leaves behind a couple of tests before SpaceX can fire up its rocket for the first time. These include transporting the booster to the launch site and conducting a wet dress rehearsal before the crucial static fire test. A wet dress rehearsal involves fuelling the rocket and making sure all ground systems are ready before a firing attempt is made.
Additionally, Musk also shared that all of the 33 engines are capable of generating 230 metric-tons of thrust. This would imply that SpaceX has tested all of them and encountered no problems. Whispers in the rumor mill have suggested that the company is facing problems with the Raptor 2 engine's combustion chamber. This is the part of the rocket in which its fuel (Methane) and oxidizer (Liquid Oxygen) are mixed and lit up after being fed through a complex array of pipes and pressure pumps.
The whispers believe that the chamber melts at higher pressures, and we have seen what might have been the result of such an occurrence in a test conducted earlier this year. Yet since they are unconfirmed, the upcoming static fire test will provide critical information.
Starship is one of the largest rockets in the world, and when fully stacked, it will weigh a staggering 5,000 tons or five kilo tons. SpaceX builds the rocket by rolling sheets of steel into cylinders, stacking the cylinders on top of each other and then welding them. The company is also waiting on the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to finish an environmental review of its facilities, after which it will be able to apply for a launch license.
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