SpaceX will conduct a ‘burst test’ of a Starship tank in South Texas

SpaceX will conduct a ‘burst test’ of a Starship tank in South Texas

Featured Image Source: @LabPadre via Twitter and YouTube

SpaceX is in the early phase of developing its next-generation launch vehicle. Starship will be capable of transporting hundreds of passengers to the moon and Mars. The aerospace company aims to have a Starship ready to carry passengers by the year 2023. The first private passenger will be a Japanese fashion entrepreneur, Yusaku Maezawa, who dreams of going on a voyage around the moon. He is supporting SpaceX’s Starship development by purchasing the spacecraft’s first crewed voyage.

SpaceX is rapidly manufacturing and testing multiple stainless-steel Starship prototypes at Boca Chica Beach, Texas. This year, two prototypes known as SN5 and SN6, performed low altitude test flights of 150-meters powered by a single Raptor engine. The next test flight will be conducted by Starship SN8, it will be the first fully assembled vehicle to attempt a higher-altitude test flight. Unlike previous prototypes, SN8 will liftoff 60,000 feet (20-kilometers) powered by a trio of Raptor engines.



The founder of SpaceX Elon Musk expects at least twenty Starship prototypes to be tested before flying one to orbit. As of today, Starship SN8, SN9, SN10, and SN11 prototypes are simultaneously under assembly at the rocket factory. “If SN8 craters, SN9 & SN10 are close behind. High production rate allows for fast iteration,” he said.

Meanwhile, for the past couple of weeks, SpaceX teams in South Texas are preparing to conduct a ‘burst test’ of a Starship tank referred to as SN7.1. Engineers will intentionally destroy the test tank to assess its strength. They will push the stainless-steel tank to its limit during a cryogenic pressure test that is expected to take place this week at the Boca Chica beach launch facility.

During the upcoming pressurization test, engineers will fill the Starship SN7.1 tank with cryogenic liquid nitrogen, which will subject the structure to very low temperatures while a simulator will subject the tank to forces and vibrations it would experience during flight. The test will pressurize the structure until the SN7.1 tank bursts. Previous prototypes were made out of 301 stainless steel, this tank features 304L stainless steel, which will offer engineers insight into what material is stronger for future use. The company is developing its own stainless-steel alloy mix, these destructive tests provide valuable data towards the creation of SpaceX’s alloy.



Last week, engineers conducted a series of proof tests to assess the dome tank’s strength. Tonight, SpaceX teams at Boca Chica conducted some additional testing on the vehicle. According to Live video footage captured a few hours ago at the launch pad (shown below) SN7.1 was venting tonight, which suggests the tank was filled with liquid nitrogen. The testing window closes at 6:00 a.m. tonight, the intentional burst test has not been performed yet. If the tank does not burst tonight, SpaceX might conduct the destructive test on September 23, during a test window that starts at 9:00 p.m. and ends at 6:00 a.m. Central Time (local). If the structure does not go ‘boom’ on Wednesday, back up opportunity for the burst test is scheduled for Thursday, September 24, anytime between 9:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. CDT. You can watch Starship launch pad activity Live 24/7 in the video below.



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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