Starship Gearing up for 3 Engine Raptor Fire Test

Humankind’s constant urge to travel and explore the universe always leads to some astounding technologies. We always find one or the other way to explore the vastness of outer space. And when we hit problems, we find a way around them. This desire to explore helped us create some of the fastest vehicles in history, Rockets

Rockets are the pinnacles of engineering. They take the astronauts beyond the horizon into outer space. The Apollo Rockets made for the manned moon missions hit a staggering top speed of 25,000 mph. Recently NASA’s Parker Solar Probe reached a top speed of 430,000 mph making it the fastest man-made object ever.

But our goal isn’t going the fastest. It is to reach new worlds. Much like the Star Trek movies, we want to explore the universe. And SpaceX Starship is one step closer to achieving this mission. 

SpaceX and Starship

SpaceX Launch Pad
Photo by SpaceX on Unsplash
SpaceX Launch Pad Photo by SpaceX on Unsplash

Space Exploration Technologies Corp., AKA SpaceX, is an independent space transportation manufacturing company in Hawthorne, California. As it suggests, it builds spacecraft. SpaceX is the brainchild of entrepreneur and billionaire Elon Musk. He created SpaceX with a mission to reduce the costs of space exploration and colonize Mars! This man literally brings Star Trek to life! But SpaceX has a well-established vision, and they proved that they are up to the task recently by transporting astronauts into the ISS. The Dragon Mission of SpaceX was a phenomenal success. Not only did they send men to outer space but also their technology to reuse booster rockets also paid off. 

Credit: Universe Today
Credit: Universe Today

The Starship Spacecraft and Superheavy Rocket (collectively called Starship) are SpaceX’s answer to space-efficient exploration. It is a state-of-the-art reusable space transportation system that will carry both crew and cargo beyond the Earth. They say that Starship can carry both to Earth orbits, Moon, Mars, and even beyond. Even NASA cannot rival its reusable technology. 

Under the Metal

The Starship has 2 stages. It has the first stage called the Super-Heavy Rocket and the second stage called the Starship Spacecraft. A final stage or section is the payload area. 

Credit: Darrell Etherington
Credit: Darrell Etherington

The Super Heavy Rocket (First stage) is Starship’s next-generation launch system. It can launch over 3 million kilograms of cargo and crew. It uses sub-cooled liquid methane and liquid oxygen as the rocket fuel. The super exciting feature is that the entire booster rocket is reusable and will return to SpaceX landing pads and land on its 6 legs. 

The Starship Spacecraft (second stage) is also a reusable spacecraft capable of carrying crew and cargo into outer space and interplanetary missions. It has a payload section configurable for either crew, cargo, or both. 

The Starship uses a first in the industry reusable propulsion system. The engine is called the Raptor Engine. It is a methalox staged combustion system. In July 2019, they started testing the Raptor engines, becoming the first-ever full-flow staged combustion rocket to take flight. 

In entirety, the whole spacecraft and rocket are reusable cutting the costs of space travel in the long run. 

Starship Prototype Ready for Test with 3 Raptor Engines

3 Raptor Engines Mounted to the base of Starship Prototype SN8
Credit: SpaceX
3 Raptor Engines Mounted to the base of Starship Prototype SN8 Credit: SpaceX

On October 14,  2020, Elon Musk tweeted on Twitter about the addition of 3 Raptor engines to the base of the Starship Spacecraft. The prototype is dubbed “SN8”. With this, we can expect that the first milestone of reaching the 12-mile altitude mark is coming soon. They also added two aerodynamic flaps which make the starship look better, aside from the engineering perspective. It will be the first multi-raptor static fire test ever. 

Elon Musk previously announced on October 9th that the rocket already passed the “cryo proof” testing. Two days later, the team started fitting 3 raptor engines to the base of the ship. After the much expected multi-raptor test flight, the prototype will receive its Nosecone. It isn’t already included to cut costs in case of a failure. 

As of now, we don’t know the exact schedule for the static fire tests, but we expect it to happen soon. 

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Starship Troopers of the Future

Artist's Rendering of Starships at a Mars Base
Credit: SpaceX
Artist’s Rendering of Starships at a Mars Base Credit: SpaceX

Elon Musk is literally bringing space exploration movies to life by constantly coming with breathtaking technologies. The reusable technology of the Starship will drastically cut the costs of future space travel missions. Maybe one day, the common folk will travel to space and back. 

Future Starships may help us achieve the goal of colonizing Mars. And who knows what comes after. For this, we will have to keep waiting for future developments or future Elon tweets.

Read more on SpaceX Starship prototype gearing up for the first static fire with three Raptor engines.

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