SpaceX is integrating engines to new Starship Super Heavy prototypes -‘Assuming we get regulatory approval, I think we could have an orbital launch attempt within a few months,’ says Elon Musk

by Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo April 24, 2022

SpaceX is integrating engines to new Starship Super Heavy prototypes -‘Assuming we get regulatory approval, I think we could have an orbital launch attempt within a few months,’ says Elon Musk

Featured Image Source: Tesmanian.com/Evelyn J. Arevalo @JaneidyEve

SpaceX teams at Starbase Boca Chica are working to prepare a Starship prototype to perform the long-awaited debut orbital flight attempt. They are integrating engines to a new Starship Super Heavy booster, the aerospace company’s founder Elon Musk shared during a recent TED interview. “It is looking promising for us to have an orbital launch attempt in a few months. So we’re actually integrating - will be integrating the engines into the booster for the first orbital flight starting in about a week or two. And the launch complex itself is ready to go,” said Musk. “So assuming we get regulatory approval, I think we could have an orbital launch attempt within a few months,” he said. “...Success is not guaranteed but excitement certainly is,” he acknowledged. 

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has been conducting an environmental assessment of the South Texas launch site for around nine months now, and it has delayed the assessment completion three times. The latest deadline for the assessment completion is April 29. Once the FAA completes its review and approves Starship spaceflight activities at Boca Chica Beach, then SpaceX will be able to apply for a flight license for the orbital flight attempt this year. 

Initially, SpaceX planned to launch prototypes identified as Starship SN20 and Booster 4. Engineers performed dozens of ground tests and it became the first vehicle to be fully-stacked. However, the FAA’s assessment has lasted a long time that it gave time to SpaceX engineers to improve the spacecraft. Now, they plan to launch the newest iteration of the stainless-steel vehicle; the prototypes are identified as Super Heavy Booster 7 and Starship SN24. These new prototypes feature improvements to test during the upcoming debut orbital flight.  

Starship SN24 is actively being manufactured at the Starbase factory. Local residents shared that they have seen the spacecraft will be equipped with a payload cargo bay, possibly to test deployment procedures in orbit. SpaceX engineers already performed some tests of Booster 7, including ambient and cryogenic proof tests at the launch pad on April 4 and on April 13. The booster was transported back to the factory by April 18 to get 33 Raptor V2 engines installed. “First Starship orbital flight will be with Raptor 2 engines, as they are much more capable & reliable. 230 ton or ~500k lb thrust at sea level,” shared Musk. Starship will be equipped with 6 Raptor V2 engines, three vacuum-optimized for propulsion in space.  

 

Featured Image Source: Tesmanian.com Journalist Evelyn J. Arevalo @JaneidyEve








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