After testing steady fire in the eventful Starship SN8, it was feared that the test flight would suffer from a long delay. However, thanks to the exploding disk that avoided a harmful « bang » scenario, the SN8 may still fly as high as 50,000 feet this month, albeit with an improved trio of Raptor engines..
While repair work on the SN8 was being carried out at the launch site, there was no slowdown in the pace of spectacular production a short distance down Highway 4, with three spaceships assembled or in the stacking processing flow. The first divisions of the Super Heavy BN1 prototype are also in the stacking operations at High Bay. Starship SN8 was in the process of pursuing its preliminary testing of three engines of steady fire with three new ignitions over the course of about a week.
First test involved firing the Raptor engine for the first time ever via two Header tanks, one of them – the LOX Header Tank – located at the tip of the nosecone. Previous spacecraft models (except for the MK1 Pathfinder) were tested without a nosecone.
This test was planned, despite social media speculation that there was concern about sparks being seen flying through the air during ignition.. Those sparks were from the surface of the pad, not from leaving the engine – as confirmed later by SpaceX pressing the second test immediately without removing any of the motors..
The second test was almost duplicate to the first test. However – this time two birds of prey were ignited.
The reason behind launching the single and then twin engine relates to the final portion of the Starship SN8’s test flight, with the Raptors sharing the spacecraft core from horizontal to vertical and then performing a landing burn.
Although residents of Boca Chica Village – like Mary (bocachicagal) – were sent out to indicate a steady fire test on Thursday, it was understood SpaceX would choose to perform a wet rehearsal (WDR) and fire to ignite the engine in the next window.
However, it is possible that by catching up with the test phases, a decision was made to shoot the Raptors according to the original plan of the test window..
Once again, sparks can be seen flying during ignition. However, this time it was expected based on previous test experience.
What was not expected is a molten liquid flowing from one of the engine holes onto the pad surface several seconds after the engine has been shut down. This was clearly not a symbolic case.
Interested spacecraft watchers bombarded Elon Musk with queries about the problem before SpaceX CEO and chief designer responded, “We have lost the air pressure systems in the vehicles. The cause is unknown at present. The pressure of the liquid oxygen head tank is rising. Hopefully it will release the blast disc to relieve pressure; Otherwise, the cork will burst.
This immediately moved the focus to the top of the car, hoping to see a pressure release, rather than a « RUD – unscheduled quick disassembly ».
Fortunately, the blasting disc – a specially designed sheet of metal that is weakened to the point of excessive pressure that breaks the plate before the pressure rises to the point of an explosion – works as planned, mitigating the lack of basic valve control via pressure loss Air.
A column of released LOX was observed emerging from the top of the nosecone, effectively providing the SN8.
The blast disc made, so the car looks fine. We will have to replace at least one engine.
With the SN8 undergoing safety options, the post-test shift plan related to swapping the faulty Raptor in a post-firing accident.
“You may have melted an engine pre-burner or a hot gas manifold. Whatever the cause of the pneumatic loss. We need to design this problem, « Elon added during testing.
Options included the repaired SN39 – which was initially part of the Starship SN8 trio before being replaced by SN36 – or the newly arrived SN42 could be brought into action.
Next, SN42 Sunday made a trip to the launch site, wrapped to protect it from the dust blowing around the launch site.
The additional Raptors will also be in various stages of preparation for shipment to Boca Chica, after initial testing at SpaceX’s McGregor test facility.
SpaceX will likely have at least six flight engines ready to go, based on the probability of losing the SN8 during the test flight and the goal of getting the Starship SN9 into action shortly thereafter.
Installing the replacement engine will automatically call for another static fire test, as was previously planned to continue with Header Tank related test fires due to switching between SN39 and SN36.
It could be timing Static Fire’s test of three engines in a week’s time, eventually returning the Starship to an imminent test flight position, and likely still in November. This, of course, provides an accident-free Static Fire test procedure.
The SN9 spacecraft is completely ready to take advantage of, and we hope the SN8 concludes its test flight safely – insofar as expectations should be set accordingly when the SN8 is expected to successfully achieve multiple test targets for the first time..
SN9 is likely to take advantage of the data gained from the SN8 flight, aiming to achieve additional milestones during a potentially repeatable test flight.
Currently in High Bay, SN9 has acquired its aerodynamic decks and appears to be ready to receive nosecone. There is room on High High Bay – as compared to Mid Bay – for such a pairing.
Subtraction saving can be achieved in full stack configuration; This refined flux will reduce days of pad flow compared to nosecone mate SN8 at the launch site.
Mid Bay is back in the Starship staging, the SN10 is heading towards a rooftop antenna and the SN11 partitions are raised in place in the adjacent bay.
And a cool event picked up by Mary (BocaChicaGal) tonight as SN11 Common Dome enters Mid Bay.
SN8 – Pad. SN9 – Hi Bay. Extremely Heavy Sections – High BaySN10 – Mid Bay. SN11 – Mid bay stacking. SN12 – Prep. More likely ?! # AstonishingCadence pic. Twitter. com / qjolDTaA5m
For SN11 the common dome section – with the methane head tank visible – was stacked on the LOX tank sections. Rapid progress is being made on SN11, with LOX Downcomer now installed in the Dome’s Front Division, before joining Division’s buddies in Mid Bay.
Additionally, Starship SN12 dome sections have already been spotted outdoors. The break-in section was piled up last week.
Inside the large tents, a family of nosecones is set up, with hinge attachment points installed – confirming that SpaceX Boca Chica has moved away from creating a set of Pathfinder test articles, and now only produces flight codes.
Back in High Bay, with SN9 now retained, BN1 (which is the now-confirmed name, for all section labels) is the opening sections of the Super Heavy Prototype.
This vehicle beast will include the mating of several sections before receiving two or four Raptor engines for its own test flight.. As of last reference, Elon Musk indicated that the Super Heavy will in fact follow the same test path as the Starship SN5 and SN6, jumping 150 meters in the Proof of Control Test.
This will include a new orbital launch base under construction next to the spacecraft platform before this tall missile implants its foot into the landing pad located in the area between the two launch sites.. .
It is still not known when BN1 will perform this test. However, the first sign of piling – which Mary spotted – has occurred, including two lower sections of the LOX Tank, with many sections waiting in turn to be raised into the High Bay..
No matter how the SN8 is priced during its test flight, 2021 promises to be a landmark year for spacecraft testing, with a host of Starships and at least one Super Heavy prototype, all lining up for their own test flights.
SpaceX, Launch Vehicle System Tests, Elon Musk Launch Site, Rocket, SpaceX South Texas
World News – US – The SN8 spacecraft hopes for a quick return to testing with additional vehicles lined up – NASASpaceFlight. Com
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