SpaceX 'Mechazilla' Lifts Super Heavy Booster On The Launch Mount, Engineers Ignite Multiple Raptors

von Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo September 01, 2022

SpaceX 'Mechazilla' Lifts Super Heavy Booster On The Launch Mount, Engineers Ignite Multiple Raptors

Featured Image Source: SpaceX & @LabPadre via Twitter

An astronaut voyage to Mars is getting closer with every SpaceX Starship test in South Texas. Chief Engineer Elon Musk envisions manufacturing a fleet of 1,000 Starships within 20 years to create a permanent base on the Red Planet. He believes it is important for humanity to expand life to our nearest terraformable neighbor. "Production is hard, prototypes are easy. Building ~1000 Starships to create a self-sustaining city on Mars is our mission,” Musk said in December 2020. Since 2019, the company has conducted multiple high-altitude flight tests with Starship prototypes at the Starbase facility in Boca Chica Beach. Engineers target to perform the first test flight to orbit before this year ends. To propel Starship to space SpaceX will use a gigantic Super Heavy rocket booster which has not been test launched yet. The rocket is set to become the world’s most powerful rocket, right next to the retired Saturn V rocket that propelled astronauts to the Moon during the Apollo program.

For the past couple of months, SpaceX is working on preparing stainless-steel prototypes Starship SN24 and Super Heavy Booster 7 for the orbital flight test. Teams have performed multiple proof tests and engine tests of both vehicles and faced a couple technical challenges that engineers have been quick to resolve. On July 11, Booster 7 experienced an explosion that caused some damage that has since been fixed. The blast was caused by a spin start test of Booster 7's 33 methane-fueled Raptor V2 engines, Musk said the "Raptor has a complex start sequence" and that "Going forward, we won’t do a spin start test with all 33 engines at once" to avoid explosions. 

Then engineers removed engines to fix the vehicle and by August 11, they performed a full-duration static-fire test of Booster 7, which was equipped with 20 engines at that time. During the static-fire, a single Raptor engine was ignited for 20 seconds while the vehicle remained grounded on the launch mount and engineers collected data of its performance. It was the first long duration engine test of the Super Heavy booster. Musk shared the "long duration engine firing [was] to test autogenous pressurization," he said. The booster was then transported to the Starbase rocket factory to have the rest of its 13 engines installed. 

By August 24, Musk shared that Booster 7 was transported back to the launch pad. The 230-foot-tall rocket was lifted onto the launch mount by 'Mechazilla', the launch tower's robotic arms, pictured below. The tower is 469-feet-tall and is designed to recover the spacecraft by grabbing it as it descends from the sky. Musk nicknamed the launch tower 'Mechazilla' in reference to the 'Mechagodzilla' character from the 'Godzilla' film franchise.

This week, engineers ignited multiple Raptor V2 engines on Booster 7 during the third static-fire test. Local photographers captured Live footage of the rocket's test, the video is linked below. Booster 7 roared on August 31st; only 3 engines were fired, according to multiple sources who follow the spacecraft's development closely. All these tests will lead up to SpaceX performing a full-duration static-fire of all 33 Raptor engines to ensure all is working well for the orbital flight test. Today, SpaceX continued pre-flight testing of the Starship SN24 vehicle. Teams performed some testing in preparation for another static-fire test, shared NASASpaceflight via Twitter. 

 

 

 

Featured Image Source: SpaceX & @LabPadre via Twitter








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