SpaceX Ignites Starship SN20's Methane-Fueled Raptor Engines Again In Preparation For Orbital Flight

Evelyn Arevalo von Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo Dezember 29, 2021

SpaceX Ignites Starship SN20's Methane-Fueled Raptor Engines Again In Preparation For Orbital Flight

Featured Image Source: @LabPadre via YouTube & Twitter 

Boca Chica Beach in South Texas will become the ‘Gateway To Mars’, SpaceX is building a 21st Century Spaceport from where a fleet of Starships will lift off on voyages to the Moon, Mars, and beyond. The aerospace company is currently preparing to conduct the first orbital flight test during which a Super Heavy rocket booster will propel the Starship spacecraft for the first time to Earth’s orbit and attempt to return with an ocean landing off the coast of Kauai, Hawaii. Engineers are preparing two prototypes, Booster 4 and Starship SN20, for the orbital flight. 

On Wednesday, December 29, SpaceX ignited Starship SN20's methane-fueled Raptor engines again in preparation for the orbital flight test. The brief ignition was a static-fire test during which the stainless-steel vehicle remained grounded to the launch mount at Starbase Boca Chica as the Raptors were fired for a couple of seconds. Starship SN20 is equipped with six engines fueled by a combination of cryogenic liquid methane (CH4) and liquid oxygen (LOX); Three Raptors optimized to navigate in the vacuum of space and three sea-level Raptors designed for atmospheric flight. This test helps engineers assess the engine’s performance. They previously conducted a static-fire test of SN20 in November and a pre-burner test of the vacuum-optimized engines in October. A local Boca Chica resident, LabPadre, set up cameras that captured footage of this week’s static-firing, shown below. 

The LabPadre camera feed also captured footage of SpaceX’s robotic dog named ‘Apollo’. It was manufactured by Boston Dynamics and serves as a useful tool for SpaceX because it features sensors capable of collecting a variety of data. The Boston Dynamics website details several uses for the robo-dog, some of the features that can be useful for SpaceX will likely be: 360° panoramic cameras to keep the launch pad supervised, noise anomaly detection, thermal inspection, and leak detection. It can be used to inspect Starship prototypes during Starship tests that are too dangerous for humans to witness up close.     

The timing of when SpaceX will launch Starship to orbit is unclear. Initially, the company planned the orbital flight test attempt for January or February next year, however, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is conducting an environmental assessment of the Starbase launch site and delayed its completion from December 31 to February 28. So, Starship’s orbital flight won’t happen until that is completed. Once the FAA ensures safe spaceflight operations at Boca Chica Beach, then SpaceX will be able to apply for a flight license to conduct the long-awaited orbital flight test. The new year is guaranteed to be exciting in South Texas! You can watch Live views of the Starbase launch pad in the video below, courtesy of LabPadre via YouTube. 

VIDEO: LABPADRE 24/7 LIVESTREAM OF STARSHIP LAUNCH SITE 

 

  

Featured Image Source: @LabPadre via YouTube & Twitter 




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