all starship passes a critical test

After the first wet dress rehearsal, orbital baptism of this revolutionary machine is fast approaching.

January 23rd was a pivotal date for SpaceX. While Starship impatiently awaits its baptism into orbit, this famous new generation space vehicle that already promises to transform aerospace in depth passed the mark of a very important test yesterday; the Starship – Super Heavy couple had their first wet dress rehearsal integral, a sign that the beginning is not far off.

In August and then this past September, SpaceX conducted separate static firing tests for the Starship, but also for the huge Super Heavy booster that will help it reach orbit. This test involves putting a portion of the engines on full throttle for a relatively short time to ensure all systems are working properly, from tank sealing to rocket engine performance.

SpaceX arrives in the final stretch; the goal now is repeat these tests with the entire structure. This isn’t the first time Starship has been fitted to its future ejection seat; this duet that culminates in 120 meters above sea level it had already been assembled to perform various tests. But it was still too early to do the final integration tests.

The first wet dress rehearsal of the whole structure

Yesterday was the first milestone of this final sprint. It is wet dress rehearsal (WDR) is an engineering assessment and training sequence for engineers and ground crews. The goal is to get as close as possible to real launch conditions to repeat the sequence of events that will allow the spacecraft to take off.

The heart of the test is filling the tanks. This involves charging hundreds of thousands of liters of liquid propellant at very low temperatures. In Starship’s case, it’s methane and oxygen, a combination called metallox. This material will be vaporized and then combined in the injector to propel the device. It is from the presence of these fluids that the term humid comes.

This procedure had already been tested for Starship and their own, but to each his own. Yesterday, SpaceX took the next step by achieving the first complete WDR of the fully assembled colossus.

Starship completed its first full live WDR at Starbase “, explained the company on Twitter. ” This is the first time that the ship, fully integrated with its booster, has been supplied with more than 450 tons of propellant.. »

Just two more critical steps before departure

Now that the reliability of the assembly has been verified, there are only two major technical milestones left before Starship is officially ready to fly. To begin with, Starbase troops will separate one last time from your booster. They will be able to test the latter at full speed. This test was already performed for the Starship itself in September with a large prairie fire (see our article).

Last November, engineers pushed the launcher to just under 50% of its capacity. They fired 14 Raptor V2 engines. The next step will be to push all 33 engines fully. This test will verify that the Super Heavy booster performs as expected under these conditions.

It will also be an opportunity to test the strength of the launch pad. A point that is anything but insignificant. Because with more than 7,500 tons of cumulative thrust, the poor platform will experience disconcerting restrictions during launch.

After this period, it will be necessary to repeat the operation again, but with the Starship booster capped. It will therefore return to the configuration it is in at this very moment. This will be the last critical test before commissioning. At this stage, the machine will be technically ready to take off.

More than two years after the first test liftoff, and almost a year after the last test that saw the Starship climb to 10 km altitude (see this video from SpaceX), the baptism of orbit is therefore fast approaching. It’s probably just another one matter of months or even weeks if all goes as planned. It is therefore advisable to stay tuned while waiting for the next announcements related to this historic launch.

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