Image Source: LabPadre via YouTube
The founder and Chief Engineer of SpaceX, Elon Musk, envisions a future where travelling to the moon and Mars is as frequent as travelling via airplane across continents on Earth, he desires to transform humans into a multi-planet species. SpaceX has developed some of the most technologically advanced rockets in the aerospace industry, Falcon 9 is capable of taking tons of payload into space and coming back to land on autonomous droneship at sea, landing vertically using the power of its own engines. They are the only company who worked to obtain the capacity to reuse a rocket's first-stage, they now aim to develop a fully reusable spacecraft that will enable rapid reuse like a commercial aircraft. Rapid reusability will be needed to transform us into a spacefaring civilization. To accomplish this ambitious plan, Musk designed a next-generation launch vehicle - Starship - which is being built with full reusability in mind. SpaceX aims to build a Starship that will have the capacity to take 100 passengers plus 100 tons of cargo to Mars' surface. This will completely change the course of humanity's future.
Currently, SpaceX is working on manufacturing and testing Starship's first prototypes. The first flight version of the craft, referred to as Starship SN1, is under construction at their South Texas launch facility situated at Boca Chica Beach. Engineers aim to build at least 20 Starship flight prototypes this year. To perform test flights and figure out what works best to integrate to the final version of the craft. During the testing and manufacturing process, engineers will design each of the 20 prototypes with slight variations that should improve the capabilities of the craft.
Musk was seen inspecting Starship's construction progress at SpaceX Boca Chica yesterday, on January 1st (video above). SpaceX teams are currently working on stacking stainless-steel rings that will make up Starship SN1's structure (video below). The past weeks they have been testing propellant tank domes to test their strength before integrating them into the SN1 flight vehicle. Last test, was a cryogenic pressure test, performed on January 30, which was successful in demonstrating their welding technique and manufacturing process was good in terms of withstanding strength. The propellant tank dome needed to withstand a pressure of at least 6 bar for an orbital flight without humans onboard. SpaceX aimed to increase the bar strength to ensure the craft ends up being safe for crewed flights. The propellant test tank reached an internal pressure of 8.5 bar, or about 8.5 times the pressure of Earth's atmosphere at sea level. That is strong enough to withstand the pressure it would experience on future human missions to space.
SpaceX aims to perform Starship SN1's first test flight above Boca Chica Beach, Texas sometime in March. By the looks of it, the company is making quick progress toward meeting that tight schedule.
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About the Author
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.