SpaceX Initiates Starship Super Heavy Booster's Test Campaign

SpaceX Initiates Starship Super Heavy Booster's Test Campaign

Featured Image Source: LabPadre via YouTube/Twitter 

On July 1st, SpaceX teams at Starbase rolled out the first Super Heavy rocket booster prototype to the Boca Chica Beach launch pad and by July 8th they quickly initiated the vehicle’s test campaign. The 230-feet-tall booster, roughly the size of the Statue of Liberty, is under development to propel the 150-feet-tall Starship spacecraft to orbit. Super Heavy will be the most powerful rocket in the world, capable of lifting-up over 100 tons of cargo. Together, the launch system will be used to return astronauts to the Moon and send the first astronauts to colonize Mars.

On Thursday, SpaceX engineers conducted a pressure test at ambient temperature on the Super Heavy prototype identified as ‘Booster 3’. This test is typically performed ahead of a cryogenic proof test meant to assess the stainless-steel vehicle’s structural integrity. It was the first time SpaceX has performed a ground test on a Super Heavy prototype. Initially, the company planned to continue testing today, however, it is likely that they delayed testing due to severe thunderstorms and flood watch warnings entering the Cameron County region this week.

According to the County’s road closure announcements, SpaceX targets to continue Booster 3 ground testing starting on Monday, July 12 through Thursday, July 15, during timeframes scheduled from 12 noon to 10:00 p.m. Central Time (local). Road closures are necessary to ensure safety parameters are established in the public beach zone, in case the vehicle implodes. Some rocket development tests require engineers to intentionally push a structure to its limit to see how much the vehicle can withstand. During the upcoming cryogenic proof test, Booster 3 will be filled with super cold liquid nitrogen to simulate the pressure that would be created by liquid methane and oxygen when the rockets 29 Raptor engines are fueled. Passing this test will be crucial before engineers decide to move on to develop other aspects of the launch vehicle. The test could reveal any structural and design flaws that will enable engineers to improve the next prototype in line, Booster 4.

SpaceX founder Elon Musk said that Booster 4 will be the first to conduct a test flight. –“[…] We’re changing much of design from 3 to 4. Booster 3 was very hard to build. Expect especially rapid evolution in first ~10 boosters & first ~30 ships,” he stated. Meanwhile, a 400-foot-tall orbital launch tower is under construction, it will support the stacking operation of Starship (Serial Number 20) atop Super Heavy (Booster 4). “I think we can stack an orbital ship on an orbital booster in July,” Musk said last week. If all goes according to SpaceX’s plan, we could see the first Starship lift off from South Texas to orbit and attempt to fly across Earth above the ocean to land off the coast of Kauai in Hawaii during its debut orbital flight test. You can watch a live broadcast of SpaceX’s launch pad construction progress in the video below, courtesy of LabPadre via YouTube. 





Featured Image Source: LabPadre via YouTube/Twitter 

About the Author

Evelyn Arevalo

Evelyn Arevalo

Evelyn J. Arevalo joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover news as a Space Journalist and SpaceX Starbase Texas Correspondent. Evelyn is specialized in rocketry and space exploration. The main topics she covers are SpaceX and NASA.

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