Image Source: Elon Musk
Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX, shared today that he pulled off an all nighter working alongside SpaceX teams on the company's third prototype of Starship, at their assembly site located in Boca Chica Beach, Brownsville, Texas. Musk said that they are working on building a tank dome and that it is the most difficult part to build. He wrote via Twitter:
"Was up all night with SpaceX team working on Starship tank dome production (most difficult part of primary structure), Dawn arrives..."
In the video Musk shared, he can be heard saying "Still going" while engineers and mechanics work on building the shiny stainless-steel tank dome structure.
Was up all night with SpaceX team working on Starship tank dome production (most difficult part of primary structure). Dawn arrives … pic.twitter.com/SzyDSYUYOu— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 27, 2019
Despite of recent setbacks, quick progress is being made on Starship Mk3 at the south Texas assembly site. In November, the top dome structure of the Starship Mk1 - the first fully assembled prototype - exploded out during cryogenic testing where they pressurized the craft to the max in order to check for any leaks in the vehicle. It is a routine type of test, meant to prepare the craft for a debut flight so engineers could determine whether the prototype had any leaks, and they utilize sensors to know the gas volume that is being loaded into the craft, but it was partially destroyed during the test.
Though this explosion wasn't an unexpected occurrence, since the craft is in an early-stage of development. By test trials and error, is how rocket companies learn to improve their spacecraft. SpaceX said in a statement: "The purpose of today's (Nov.20) test was to pressurize systems to the max, so the outcome was not completely unexpected."
Absolutely, but to move to Mk3 design. This had some value as a manufacturing pathfinder, but flight design is quite different.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 20, 2019
After Starship Mk1 blew its top bulkhead out during cryogenic testing, Musk said SpaceX will move on to build Starship Mk3, which is the third version of the craft instead of fixing Mk1, stating that Mk1’s value was primarily "as a manufacturing pathfinder," and that "flight design is quite different." Starship Mk3, that is currently under development, will be the third version of the crafts prototype.
SpaceX aims to develop Starship into the world's most powerful rocket ever built. The company does have an extensive history and knowledge of successful spacecraft and engine development. Starship will be a massive two part vehicle, that will utilize a Super Heavy rocket to get out of Earth's atmosphere powered by 37 Raptor engines. The rocket will return to Earth from space, like a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, landing vertically on a spaceport in order to be reused again. Starship will be able to cruise through space solely powered by it's 6 Raptor engine thrusters. Read more: SpaceX celebrates the season with a Holiday-themed Raptor engine. The craft will be reusable capable of carrying 100 passengers and over 100 tons of cargo to the Moon, Mars and beyond into the depths of space. The first orbital test flight of a Starship prototype is targeted for next year.
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.