As part of its campaign to launch its Mars rocket, Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX) on Friday erected a prototype of the next-generation Super Heavy rocket of its Starship rocket with a crane at its testing facilities in Boca Chica, Texas. Unlike its Falcon 9 rockets, which are assembled before being sent to the ground, SpaceX plans to lift two parts of the Starship on the launch platform itself, for which the company has built a large crane structure. Starship’s operational profile includes SpaceX which lowers its amplifiers to the ground, restores them for flight, and then lifts the spaceship to booster. The Super Heavy booster appeared earlier this week and is the first prototype to be almost completely assembled – with many hoping it will be the one to try the rocket’s first launch later this year.
SpaceX is approaching the static fire test of the largest American rocket so far
SpaceX’s current rocket – the Falcon 9 – uses nine Merlin engines to lift a load weighing as much as 23 tons into low Earth orbit (LEO). With Starship, the company plans to increase this fivefold by using more and larger engines and different materials. While the Merlin 1D + Falcon 9 engine is capable of generating 221,000 pound-force (lbf) thrust, the Raptor 2 engines installed on the Starship can eject 510,000 lbf thrust, more than doubling the amount generated by Merlin.
In addition, not only is the Raptor 2 much more powerful, but unlike the nine engines present on the Falcon 9, the Starship Super Heavy booster has 33 Raptor 2 engines. This in turn allows the rocket to deliver as much as 100 tons to the LEO, which is almost five times the capacity of the Falcon 9. Another SpaceX rocket, the Falcon Heavy with 27 Merlin engines, can fly up to 64 tons to the LEO.
SpaceX yesterday rolled out its latest Super Heavy booster to the launch pad in Boca Chica, Texas shortly after which it was lifted by crane to the ground. The booster is 270 feet high, 30 feet in diameter and is expected to weigh as much as 200 tons according to SpaceX chief Mr. Elon Musk.
Musk’s company moved forward in its bid to conduct an orbital test launch of Starship earlier this month as the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) completed an environmental review of the facilities. Still, although SpaceX may conduct static fire tests of its rockets, which include testing their engines on the ground, along with low-altitude flight tests, it will need additional FAA approval to launch vehicles into orbit.
When it comes to static fires, SpaceX seems to be moving fast – just as its culture was designed. The alleged Maritime Safety Bulletin issued by the United States Coast Guard on Friday (shared on Twitter) informs readers that from June 27 to June 30, the danger zone will be present around SpaceX facilities from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Another copy of the newsletter may be accessed here.
Furthermore, local authorities are also announced Closing roads for the Boca Chica highway and beach on June 27 and 28, at the same time.
Static fire testing is absolutely crucial for a Star Scale rocket. SpaceX will facilitate complex operations that lead to refueling the rocket, and more importantly, it will also allow the company to check the relevant systems on the booster. A previous, different test resulted fuel pipe of the same amplifier deforming, after which SpaceX fixed it within a few weeks.
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