SpaceX’s Starship Hits Major Milestone, Approaching First Flight

Preparation for the test flight of SpaceX’s giant launcher, the Starship, continues. After fully assembling it on its Starbase launch pad, SpaceX performed a complete fueling test of the launcher. Next step, a static ignition of all 33 engines on the main stage.

Preparations for Starship’s first test flight continue at a pace that suggests the maiden flight could take place in the coming weeks, likely in March. However, the launch authorization to be issued by the Federal Aviation Administration of the United States (FAA) is still pending, but, on the part of the SpaceXSpaceXwe are confident in getting this “open sesame”.

Meanwhile, preparations for this test flight are underway. Earlier this week, SpaceX performed a full fuel test of the Starship. This consisted of filling the two parts of the launcher with fuel: the Starship transport vehicle and the Super Heavy’s main stage, i.e. the boosterbooster needed to launch the starship. This is the first time it has been completely filled with 5,000 tons of metallox, a mixture of liquefied methane andoxygenoxygen.

SpaceX also confirmed that the complete countdown procedure was successfully performed in a simulation.

Article of Remy DecourtRemy Decourt published on 01/20/2023

SpaceX’s gigantic launch vehicle, the Starship, was fully assembled on its Starbase launch pad. It is ready for its test flight which will take place after two important tests. A single repeat of the launch procedure and a static ignition of all 33 main stage engines.

On January 9, 2023, SpaceX assembled the two parts of Starship, its future giant 120 meter high launcher, on its launch pad! The upper stage, which is the transport vehicle and is called Starship, was installed on the Super Heavy’s main stage, that is, the booster needed to launch the Starship.

This is the third time since August 2021 that the two parts of the launcher have been joined together to form the Starship launcher. The first two times they were placed on top of each other. This time they are assembled (or in the process of being assembled). The two parts of the launcher were assembled using the “chopstick” arms of the huge crane nicknamed Mechazilla and built by SpaceX in two copies: one in Boca Chica, Texas, the other in cape canaveralcape canaveral in Florida.

Elon Musk expects Starship’s maiden flight to take place within a few weeks, in March. Before that, two main crucial tests must be passed. A replay of the boot timeline with padding (wet test, in NASA jargon), which will consist of filling the tanks and carrying out all the steps prior to takeoff, but which will end before the end of the countdown. This will be followed by a static ignition of the 33 Raptor engines on the main stage. This will be the first time that all of the Super Heavy’s engines fire at the same time. A previous test had been done with “only” 14 engines.

From Texas to the Hawaiian Islands

This first test flight is scheduled to last about 90 minutes. Starship will be launched into orbit by the Super Heavy launch vehicle approximately nine minutes after liftoff and will fly to the Hawaiian archipelago, passing through space but not achieving a full orbit around Earth. If all goes as planned, the Super Heavy’s main stage will land again on dry land, which will not be the case for the Starship. After an atmospheric re-entry, it is expected to sink in open sea off the coast of Hawaii, after a controlled landing. early 2021, Elon MuskElon Musk explained that ” if he did not expect any particular problems during the take-off of the Super Heavy and the Starship “, he admitted, on the other hand, that he will probably take” many attempts before SpaceX perfected Starship’s orbital re-entry and landing maneuvers “.

Pilot a multi-engine launcher

In order to understand the difficulty of piloting a launcher with several engines, it is necessary to know that, from one engine to another, the level of combustion is never the same and it is very difficult to model, hence the importance of ground tests and the experience gained with the flights of falcon 9falcon 9whose main stage has nine engines, and heavy falconheavy falcon and its 3×9 engines – its main stage and comprised of three Falcon 9 main stages.

The jet of each engine does not mean that together these jets work as if they were separate engines. These jets will interact with each other and this can represent many aerodynamic restrictions, mainly lateral, and, therefore, make it difficult for the machine to climb. One of the jets can also shut down another engine’s jet! Another problem is the orientation of the motors. Obviously, it’s not the same thing to have three engines instead of just one! with some debtsdebts importantly, suction can occur in the skirt and create a vacuum effect.

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