SpaceX rolls out Starship, stacks world’s largest rocket, and separates Starlink launch hours

SpaceX rolls out Starship, stacks world’s largest rocket, and separates Starlink launch hours

In 15 hours, SpaceX brought a new Starship to its South Texas launch and test facilities, reassembled the world’s largest rocket, launched a Starlink satellite into orbit and retrieved a reused Falcon 9 booster to port.

A burst of activity erupted at sunset at SpaceX’s Starbase rocket factory in Boca Chica, Texas as a new orbital-class Starship prototype left its ‘nest’ for the first time. SpaceX rolled the starship — known as Ship 25 — a few miles down the highway to its nearby launch and test facilities, where workers attached it to a large crane and waited for daylight.

The following day, around 9 a.m. CDT on October 20th, SpaceX lifted Vessel 25 to one of the two Starship Test Stands, where it would finally attempt to complete several qualification tests. While Ship 25 was still suspended in mid-air, the Starbase launch pad’s orbital launch tower began lifting a different prototype, Ship 24, into the air with a pair of giant ‘chopsticks’ – mechanical weapons to replace the largest one planned by SpaceX. Mobile cranes of the world.

Then, as it stacked Vessel 24 atop Super Heavy Booster 7 and was installing Vessel 25 on a test stand, a Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, carrying 54 new Starlink satellites. A few minutes earlier, SpaceX finished craning a reused Falcon 9 booster from one of its drone ship landing platforms at a port ten miles south.

Starlink 4-36 was SpaceX’s 48th launch of 2022 and 56th in less than 12 months, so its Falcon launch program has no time to waste. The drone ship Just Read the Instructions (JRTI) Falcon 9 returned to port with booster B1069 about 12 hours before the rocket was transferred from the ship’s deck to a stand in SpaceX’s Port Canaveral dock space. The company will now be able to withdraw the legs of B1069 and complete any necessary booster and drone ship refurbishments, ensuring that both will be ready for their next mission in the near future.

Back in Texas, SpaceX will begin thorough testing of a fully stacked Starship rocket for the first time. as soon as possible Monday, October 24. Ship 24 was reinstalled on Booster 7 after SpaceX separated the pair for several days, possibly due to forecast high winds. The test campaign is expected to begin with the two-stage starship’s first full wet dress rehearsal (WDR), meaning the rocket will be fully loaded with thousands of tons of liquid methane and oxygen propellant and run through a simulated launch countdown. The engine ends just before ignition.

If successful, SpaceX will likely resume Booster 7 static fire testing and continue until the first simultaneous ignition of all 33 of its Raptor 2 engines. If the pair survives WDR and static fire testing, SpaceX can begin preparing the same rocket for Starship’s orbital launch debut.

If significant problems arise during testing, SpaceX may choose to retire Ship 24 and/or Booster 7 and move to a new and improved pair: possibly Ship 25 and Booster 8 or 9. Already complete, Super Heavy Booster 8 has been sitting untouched at Starbase’s launch site for weeks, making it uncertain whether SpaceX will actually test or use the prototype. Booster 9 is just one stack away from completion, at which point it will be ready to begin proof testing. According to CEO Elon Musk, the B9 features Significant improvement That will make it more resilient Mid-flight Raptor engine failure. It may be the first super heavy booster without a hydraulic system, thanks to a new version of the Raptor that incorporates hydraulic thrust vectoring. Battery powered option.

Starship S25 may begin its own proof tests as early as next week. Unlike Ship 24, Ship 25 went straight from the factory to a test stand modified with six hydraulic rams. These rams will simulate the thrust of six Raptor 2 engines (up to ~1400 tons or 3.1M lbf) when the starship is simultaneously loaded with cryogenic liquid oxygen and/or nitrogen, combining maximum mechanical and thermal stress in an experiment. Once Ship 25 is done, it will be brought back to the factory for Raptor engine installation and finally back to the pad for static fire testing.

SpaceX rolls out Starship, stacks world’s largest rocket, and separates Starlink launch hours

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