The next generation of SpaceX Spaceship vehicle We have taken a big step toward the next leap forward.
Early this morning (October 20) SpaceX Three Raptor engines from the SN8 (“Serial No. 8”) Starship prototype were lit in a simple “static fire” test at the company’s South Texas site near the seaside town of Boca Chica.
A static fire with the engine igniting and the projectile tied to the ground is a common precursor to flight. And the SN8 is scheduled for an unmanned test flight, reaching a maximum altitude of about 18 km later this month or next month. If everything goes according to plan.
Starship SN8 STATIC FIRE !! First Triple Raptor Static Fire! Mary (@BocaChicaGal) writes history again! ➡️https: //t.co/UGPoVVF5dt pic.twitter.com/NzCimSNp9OOctober 20, 2020
That’s probably the tallest Starship prototype ever flown. The previous three single engine iterations reached about 500 feet (150 meters), most recently in August and September of this year when the SN5 and SN6 vehicles flew in the sky.
The SN5 and SN6 looked like a grain silo as the SN8 now does. But the newer vehicles will look a lot more spacecraft when taking off, and boast nose cones and directional body flaps, Musk said.
And these features will be installed soon, given the consequences of this morning’s static fire, Musk said.
“The data of the 3 engine starship static fire this morning looks good. In progress with the nose cone mate” Tweet this afternoon.
Many prototypes all announce the final design of Starship, and Musk says that three “sea level” versions like the one launched this morning and three “vacuum” versions with much larger nozzles will be powered by six raptors. Said. Optimized for use in space. The 165 feet (50 m) high spacecraft is launched from Earth aboard a giant rocket called the Super Heavy, and will carry about 30 raptors.
Both vehicles can be completely and quickly reused. SpaceX eventually plans to use Starship and Super Heavy for all its space flight needs, from satellite launches to transporting people and payloads to the Moon, Mars and other distant destinations.
Starship, for example, is running to provide NASA’s crew lunar landing service. Artemis program, Aims to land two astronauts on the lunar south pole in 2024.
The Raptor engine is also well suited for Mars colonization, one of Musk’s and SpaceX’s main long-term goals. The Raptor is fueled with liquid oxygen and methane, both of which can be made efficiently on Mars using local resources, Musk stressed. (The Merlin engines that power SpaceX’s Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets use liquid oxygen and kerosene form.)
Editor’s Note: According to Elon Musk’s tweet, the story was updated with news that static fire data looked good at 7:45 PM EDT.
Mike Wall is the author of the book “Out There” (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustration: Karl Tate) on exploring extraterrestrial life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook.
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