SpaceX

SpaceX Completes Raptor V2 Installation on Starship & Super Heavy Rocket For Static-Fire Tests

SpaceX Completes Raptor V2 Installation on Starship & Super Heavy Rocket For Static-Fire Tests

SpaceX completed the installation of Raptor V2 engines on its Starship SN24 and Super Heavy rocket Booster 7 prototypes that will perform the upcoming debut orbital spaceflight. On Saturday, July 2nd, SpaceX shared amazing photographs of all Raptors installed, pictured above. Starship is equipped with six Raptor V2 engines, three have a much larger nozzle optimized for the vacuum of space; Booster 7 has a total of 33 Raptor V2 engines. Combined, the methane-fueled engines are capable of generating over 16 million pounds of thrust upon lift off. Starship/Super Heavy is destined to become the world's most powerful operational rocket. 

The Raptor is the first full-flow staged combustion rocket engine ever flown. It has been refined over the years, the newest iteration of the methane-fueled engine known as Version 2 (V2). In comparison to the first version (V1), V2 is a complete redesign that features less complex turbomachinery but it yields more power because it can take in more fuel. Engineers completely reworked the nozzle, combustion chamber, plumbing, and electronics to enhance the engine's efficiency. The company says it features “More Power, Less Parts”. Raptor V2's are welded together which helps to reduce the number of components that comprise the engine, making V2 more compact and easier to manufacture than the Raptor V1 which needed flanges to bolt all the engine parts together. The cost of manufacturing Raptor V2 is half of V1, making it cost-effective for large-scale production.

Super Heavy Booster 7 was was transported from the Starbase factory to the launch pad down State Highway 4 at Boca Chica Beach on June 23. For the first time, SpaceX used the robotic launch tower arms to lift the gigantic stainless-steel rocket on the mount. The claw-like arms are designed to stack Starship atop the 230-foot-tall Super Heavy rocket, as well as "catch" the vehicles after a spaceflight. Booster 7 already underwent a series of cryogenic proof tests and is at the launch pad awaiting its Raptor engine static-fire test campaign. Engineers have never ignited over three Raptors simultaneously, so it will be exciting to see how many they test ignite. According to a Marine Safety Information Bulletin by the U.S. Coast Guard issued on July 5, SpaceX could potentially test ignite Raptors as soon as July 7. 

 

Starship SN24 was transported to the launch pad this week on July 5th. Starbase employees added a cool 'X' logo sticker and the 'SN24' label (pictured below). It appears they are confident that this vehicle will pass pre-flight testing to launch to orbit this Summer. SpaceX founder Elon Musk said the orbital flight could happen in July and that teams are simultaneously preparing to have the next Starship prototype to conduct a second orbital flight in August. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) already completed an environmental assessment of the Starbase launch site, SpaceX is waiting for a spaceflight license to launch from Boca Chica. According to an orbital flight plan released last year, Booster 7 will propel Starship to orbit and land in the Gulf of Mexico approximately 20 miles from the South Texas launch pad soon after liftoff, while Starship continues its orbital flight across the Florida Straits before making an ocean landing around 62-miles off the coast of Kauai, Hawaii. 

 

 

The spacecraft features a payload satellite dispenser door which is expected to be tested during the orbital flight. Musk compared the door mechanism to a "PEZ" candy dispenser (shown below). It is designed to deploy dozens of Starlink satellites to orbit. SpaceX depends on Starship's success to launch the next-generation Starlink 2.0 satellites that will enable the company to provide high-speed internet access globally. Falcon 9 neither has the volume nor the mass-to-orbit capability required for Starlink 2.0," Musk said. Each Starlink 2.0 satellites weighs about 1.25 tons. "So even if we shrunk the Starlink satellite down, the total up mass of Falcon is not nearly enough to do Starlink 2.0," he explained. "We need Starship to work and fly frequently or Starlink 2.0 will be stuck on the ground," Musk said. Starship will be capable of launching approximately 100 tons to Low Earth Orbit which will enable SpaceX to rapidly complete building the broadband constellation by doubling the amount of satellites it could launch on a single mission. Ultimately, SpaceX aims to have a Starship launch system ready to land NASA Artemis astronauts on the lunar surface by 2025.

Featured Image Source: SpaceX 

About the Author

Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo

Evelyn Janeidy 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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