Late on Thursday night, at the launch facility in Boca Chica, Texas, SpaceX performed the first flight test of its next-generation missile that can someday carry people to Mars. This time the prototype of the vehicle, called Starphope, had to stay close to home: The plan was to trigger Raptor's engine, to rise to about 60 feet, to move aside a few meters and land. 19659002] When the start time came, the smoke hid every view of the rocket. But when the smoke cleared, Starcpeper returned to the ground, not far from where he had begun. Elon Musk confirmed Twitter's success writing: "Water towers * can fly". (As it happens, a water tower would be useful: when the rocket landed, a fire immediately began to fire near the starting site.)
"This particular hops is one of a series of tests designed to bring the borders as fast as possible of the vehicle to learn everything we can as fast as we can safely, "said a SpaceX spokesman. This is the first step towards the test flights in the upper atmosphere, which Elon Musk said that "we will hope" to happen in the next few months. science-fiction novel. Bullet-shaped and stainless steel will eventually be nearly 200 feet tall. However, the water tower starfighter is much shorter: in January the strong winds lowered the missile's nose, so SpaceX decided to make the first jump without it. The nose cone will not need until later when it closes the payload of the rocket and will cope with the crushing aerodynamic forces of higher altitude tests. the launch site during the test has caused SpaceX to slow it down. Although the video of the fiery globe seemed to indicate that Starhopper was swallowed with flame, the prototype appeared largely undamaged. As Mussch on Twitter the great advantage of stainless steel – unlike the carbon fiber, which was the original plan – is that "it does not bother with a little heat." to make sure everything works normally until the second attempt.
On Wednesday, SpaceX again fueled Starhopper for its first flight, but finished the test just seconds after the engines started. The rocket never left the ground; He was swallowed by a large cloud of smoke and flame emanating from the top of the vehicle. Although SpaceX did not announce the cause of the accident, there were no explosions and Starhopper was not significantly damaged.
SpaceX plans to use Starship as a cost-effective startup system for Starlink internet satellites and as a carrier for commercial customers. In the long run, Musk says, the rocket is aimed at Mars. Like Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy, Starship will be able to land after a trip to orbit; The main difference is that it delivers a lot more energy than its predecessors.
This is due to Raptor's new SpaceX engine, which replaces the Merlin engines used in Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy. Each Merlin engine produces just over 200,000 pounds at sea level; The test version of the Raptor engine has reached 380,000 pounds. In the future, Musk said the improved versions of Raptor's engine will generate more than half a million pounds of thrust. will use at least three. The final version of the Starship will be mounted on the Falcon Superheavy, which will use 31 Raptors – delivering a two-fold boost to Saturn V that launches Apollo missions and remains the most powerful rocket ever to fly. He said he expects the company to start producing a new Raptor engine every 3 days until the end of the summer.
Starfighter's flight comes in two earlier tests earlier this year, in which the rocket was attached to the launch site, so only a few yards from the ground. At the end of last month, the Federal Aviation Administration granted SpaceX permission to conduct an "unlimited number of flights" with the Star Ship next year, which was the last regulatory barrier before it could start unallocated flights.
under construction in Texas and Florida. The SpaceX teams of each facility are technically in competition, but they update each other and share knowledge about their construction techniques. In practice, this is a way to test the A / B structure of the vehicle, a common technique in software engineering that aims to reduce production times. crew program after an explosion in April. He has already sold a ride to the Japanese billionaire starship Yusaku Maezawa, who will fly around the moon with a group of artists just after 2023. Soon enough, he will have the rocket he needs to get there.