Source: @LabPadre via Twitter / YouTube
SpaceX is in the process of developing its next-generation spacecraft-rocket duo, Starship. Designed to carry out long-duration missions to Mars with one hundred passengers aboard. The company says Starship will have the “capability to transport satellites, payloads, crew, and cargo to a variety of orbits and Earth, Lunar, or Martian landing sites.”
Starship test vehicles are actively under construction in South Texas. SpaceX is building a production line of Starships to test-out in the assembly facility at Boca Chica Beach. Engineers are currently working on the fourth test vehicle manufactured this year, referred to as Starship SN4.
Early May, Starship SN4 completed a static-fire test of its Raptor engine, serial number SN18. Engineers removed the engine and installed a new one for unknown reasons. Then, teams installed Raptor engine number SN20 on the vehicle. They proceeded to conduct a test-firing of the newly installed engine. This week, SpaceX attempted to complete a static-fire test four times, but aborted. Earlier today, May 19th, SpaceX crews finally conducted a static-fire test of the SN20 Raptor engine. During the test, Starship SN4’s propellant tanks were filled with cryogenic methane (CH4) and liquid oxygen (LOX). The single Raptor engine was ignited, at around noon local time, for about a few seconds as the vehicle was held-down to the launch pad. The engine can produce 200 tons of thrust at full throttle. Boca Chica residents shared footage of the test, shown below. This test is meant to assess the engine is ready to conduct a test flight. Starship ended up catching fire during the test, from the engine’s flames. It was burning for a while. The craft looks intact, its unknown if internal wiring was burned. If it was, SpaceX teams would have to take a few days to fix it before conducting a test flight.
Starship SN4 debut test flight is expected to be a short-duration ‘hop’ test of approximately 150-meters above Boca Chica Beach, Texas. It is still unclear when the launch will take place, could happen within the next two weeks.
WATCH STARSHIP SN4 STATIC-FIRE TEST!
NASA recently awarded SpaceX a $135 million contract to develop a Starship Lunar Lander. The company released an image of the lunar version of Starship that will take cargo and astronauts to the moon’s surface one day, under the agency’s Artemis program. Ultimately, Starship is being designed with Mars on mind. The founder of SpaceX Elon Musk, envisions a fleet of 1,000 Starships embarking on a journey to the Red Planet over the course of twenty years, with hundreds of passengers and megatons of cargo aboard.