Featured Image Source: Render Created By@ErcXspace via Twitter
SpaceX started to assemble prototypes of the Super Heavy rocket that will propel the Starship spacecraft to orbit. The company targets to conduct the first orbital test flight this Summer, no earlier than July 1st. According to a recent SpaceX filing with the U.S. Federal Communication’s Commission (FCC), SpaceX plans to fly Starship from South Texas to Hawaii during the first orbital flight. Starship will liftoff from Boca Chica Beach, Texas, and “the Booster stage will separate approximately 170 seconds into flight […] then perform a partial return and land in the Gulf of Mexico approximately 20 miles from the shore,” SpaceX wrote to the FCC in the filing document, “The Orbital Starship will continue on flying between the Florida Straits. It will achieve orbit until performing a powered, targeted landing approximately 100 kilometers (~62 miles) off the northwest coast of Kauai [Hawaii] in a soft ocean landing.”
SpaceX is in the process of building an orbital-class launch tower at its Starbase facility in South Texas to support the ambitious test flight to orbit, pictured below. On Saturday, May 29, SpaceX founder Elon Musk shared that they will test “29 Raptors on [the] Booster initially, rising to 32 later this year, along with thrust increase per engine." The final version of the booster could be equipped with 32 powerful Raptor engines. “Aiming for >7500 ton thrust long-term. T/W ~1.5 [thrust-to-weight ratio],” he added. This type of engine is unlike any other engine currently used in the aerospace industry, it is fueled by cryogenic methane and liquid oxygen. The Raptor engine has more than twice the thrust of SpaceX’s Merlin engine that powers their Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy launch vehicles.
A Boca Chica resident, who lives next to the Starbase facility, shared a photograph of a Super Heavy prototype’s Raptor engine thrust puck, which shows circle-shape marks where the 29 Raptors will be located, pictured in the Tweet below. Musk replied to the post, stating that “Raptor production is approaching one every 48 hours.” Equipping Super Heavy with 32 Raptor engines would transform into the world's most powerful launch vehicle, with a thrust capability of more than 72 meganewtons. The Starship spacecraft will be powered by 6 Raptors, including 3 sea-level engines designed for atmospheric flight, and 3 vacuum-optimized Raptors for propulsion in space.
Mary (@BocaChicaGal) spots a new thrust puck for Super Heavy arriving at SpaceX Starbase!— Chris B - NSF (@NASASpaceflight) May 29, 2021
Going to be a lot of Raptors on the aft end of the big booster! pic.twitter.com/MBVmnp5NXQ
29 Raptors on Booster initially, rising to 32 later this year, along with thrust increase per engine. Aiming for >7500 ton thrust long-term. T/W ~1.5.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 29, 2021
Engineers aim to develop a fully reusable Starship/Super Heavy launch vehicle. “Other rocket engines were designed for no, or almost no reuse. Raptor is designed for heavy and immediate reuse, like an aircraft jet engine, with inspections required only after many flights, assuming instrumentation shows it good,” Musk previously said. The Raptor engine is also designed by SpaceX with Mars in mind. Since Raptors are powered by a combination of sub-cooled methane plus liquid oxygen, future Mars settlers could dig water-ice from the Red Planet's soil and capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere in order to synthesize methane and liquid oxygen by using the Sabatier process to create fuel. Author's note: Thanks for supporting TESMANIAN! Twitter: Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo
29 Raptor Engine Booster, I do wonder how they will fit 32 under that 9m skirt?🤔 pic.twitter.com/z0BD5Q5beN— Erc X (@ErcXspace) May 29, 2021
Featured Image Source: Render Created By @ErcXspace via Twitter