SpaceX has just popped up a friend Star ship test tank.
The Starship SN7.1 tank was deliberately destroyed Tuesday night (September 22nd) at SpaceX facilities in South Texas, during a pressure test designed to take stainless steel hardware to its point of destruction.
SpaceX conducted several other similar tests, including one in June this year blow up the top of the SN7 tank. Such tests inform future reruns of Starship, Elon Musk’s 100-passenger spacecraft company is evolving to attract humans to Mars, the moon and other space destinations.
The death of SN7.1 clears the way for testing the SN8 prototype, which could begin this weekend. If the SN8 copes with a series of crates and engine tests, it will try a 12-mile (20-kilometer) flight in the skies of South Texas, Musk said.
Two full-size prototypes of the Starship have already landed – SN5 and SN6, each of which has reached about 500 feet (150 meters) in height during the last test flights. (“SN” means “serial number” in case you’re wondering.)
The flights of both SN5 and SN6 were powered by only one Raptor engine. The SN8 will have three Raptors, as well as a nose cone and improved body control covers, additional features that its predecessors lack.
The latest Starship will have six Raptors that will make the 165-foot (50-meter)-tall car powerful enough to launch from the moon and Mars, Musk said. But Starship will need help to get off our larger Earth, so it will launch a giant rocket called Super heavywhich will be powered by about 30 own Raptors.
Starship and Super Heavy are designed to be complete and fast for multiple use. Musk envisions the duo drastically reducing the cost of spaceflight – in fact, so dramatically that ambitious feats such as the colonization of Mars are becoming economically feasible.
Mike Wall is the author of the book “Searching There” (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Carl Tate). Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook.