SpaceX will send the Starship to the launch pad as early as tomorrow for low-temperature and static ignition tests


Tencent technology news on August 18, local time on Tuesday, Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX, a US space exploration technology company, said on twitter that the company is expected to try the second integration of the Starship prototype S20 and the super heavy rocket booster B4 as early as tomorrow. This is the second integrated exercise of the world’s largest launch vehicle. SpaceX will also conduct low-temperature and static ignition tests on the Starship prototype.
According to the recently announced road closure measures, it is speculated that the integration will be held as early as tomorrow evening, and the second attempt may be carried out on Thursday evening or Friday morning. Among them, S20 spacecraft will be installed on the launch pad and B4 will be installed on the suborbital launch pad. After installation, the Starship will eventually be ready for two key tests, including low temperature resistance test and static ignition test. The first test may start as early as August 19 local time.
On August 13, SpaceX briefly integrated S20 with B4. At that time, the assembly of the booster and spacecraft prototype had not been fully completed, and SpaceX expected to take at least a week or two to integrate other components and wiring in preparation for ground testing. Ideally, the S20 and B4 are likely to carry out their first real orbital launch attempt later this year.
Since its second launch, S20 has basically stayed in one place, because engineers have always been working intensively around it. In the past four days, except for the installation of several thermal insulation tiles, its appearance has not changed much in the overall vision, but the focus is obviously focused on the pipes and wires of S20, which run through most of the length of the back of the spacecraft. Almost all aircraft have such pipes and wires, and starships are no exception. It will have a “slide” filled with avionics, pipes for propellant loading, and smaller pipes for pressurization and hydraulics.
Although it is not completely clear what specific work SpaceX has completed in the past few days, nor why it has not been completed in the construction facility, musk himself has said that such a task is easier to complete in this way. But it is clear that the S20’s wiring is indeed more sophisticated than any previous spacecraft. In recent days, SpaceX has also begun to install structural elements, which indicates that S20 will become the first starship to accept conduit installation.
In any case, once the S20 is installed on one of SpaceX’s two suborbital launchers, it is likely to be ready for routine Cryogenic Testing. To pass the test, the Starship needs to withstand huge thermal stress and mechanical pressure, because its tank is filled with supercooled liquid nitrogen, and the pressure is at least 6 bar. In the past year, all starship prototypes have passed the low-temperature test, so this kind of test has been a routine test.
Curiously, SpaceX spent several weeks modifying suborbital mount B with a series of hydraulic rams designed to simulate the thrust of the six Raptor engines of S20 during the low-temperature test. But just before the Starship’s second appearance, SpaceX removed all additional hardware and will now be reinstalled on this rack.
Whatever the reason, this decision is likely to mean that once the Starship S20 passes the low temperature test, it will directly enter the static ignition test. Considering that S20 seems to be the first starship prototype to ignite more than three Raptor engines at the same time, the static ignition test may need to be more cautious. It may start with lighting one to three engines first, and then start four, five or directly to six. Of course, SpaceX may also take bold action directly and install and try to start all six Raptor engines immediately after the low-temperature test of S20.
Musk recently said that after completing these pre flight tests, the first prototype combination of starship and super heavy rocket booster should be ready for orbital test flight “in a few weeks”. However, this process still needs to overcome a huge obstacle, that is, the environmental assessment of the orbital launch site conducted by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
In fact, musk seems to be putting pressure on the FAA to speed up its review. In the past, musk also expressed disappointment with NASA’s regulations and stressed that if humans want to change the launch frequency of the game rules, they need to simplify these rules. SpaceX plans to make the Starship a game changer, aiming to use it to transport people and goods to the moon, Mars and other distant space destinations.
SpaceX has conducted test flights on previous starship prototypes at an altitude of 6.2 miles (10 kilometers). But the upcoming test flight will mark the first flight of a full-size starship and the first time the system has entered orbit. If the plan goes well, the super heavy booster will return to the Gulf of Mexico soon after liftoff. At the same time, the Starship will start its engine, enter orbit, circle the earth, and then splash down in the Pacific Ocean near Kauai Island, Hawaii´╝ł Tencent Technology (reviser / Jinlu)