January 29, 2023

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SpaceX fits Starship, Super Heavy with dozens of Raptor engines

SpaceX fits Starship, Super Heavy with dozens of Raptor engines

New images shared by SpaceX show that the company is nearing completion of the installation of a total of 39 upgraded Raptor engines on a new Starship and its Super Heavy booster.

These prototypes – known as Ship 24 and Booster 7 – could be tasked with supporting the Starship’s first orbital launch attempt sometime later this year if both succeed in upcoming test campaigns without major problems. Whether this is a possible outcome remains uncertain, but recent progress suggests that it won’t take long for the prospects for both models to shift into a clearer focus.

After several rounds of proof testing and two flights to and from SpaceX’s Starbase, Texas (OLS) orbital launch site in March, April and May, the Super Heavy Booster 7 (B7) has done its job. The third trip to the pillow On June 23.

SpaceX used the six weeks the Booster 7 spent back in the factory assembly bay to finish installing the air hoods, surfaces known as chines or Strakes, car-sized grille fins, Starlink internet platters, and most importantly – 33 upgraded Raptor V2 engines. Combined , the Booster 7 can produce up to 7,600 metric tons (about 16.8 million pounds) of thrust at or before takeoff.Crucially, SpaceX also finished installing most of Booster 7’s Raptor heat shield in the same period, completing in six weeks of work that Booster 4 took nearly half a year. With its heat shield and mostly all 33 aircraft of prey, Booster 7 should be ready to begin nearly static fire testing once it is installed on the Starbase’s orbital launcher.”

Teslarati.com – June 24, 2022

Booster 7 is waiting for the next round of tests. (NASASpaceflight – Bukashikagal)

Building, qualifying, shipping and installing 33 new Raptor 2 engines on the Super Heavy B7 was already an impressive feat and produced the most powerful (potential) rocket booster ever assembled. On July 2, two photos released by SpaceX showcased the nearly completed Booster 7 engine division and simultaneously revealed that the company had finished installing all six Raptor engines on the Starship S24 – and even part of the ship’s thermal protection.

The differences are already obvious between Ship 24 and Ship 20, the only Starship prototype to have six Raptors installed. The most notable change is the addition of a metal frame that covers the full width of the stern – likely designed to support the flat sections of insulation and thermal protection that will partially enclose the sensitive engine, plumbing, pressure vessels, and avionics components located within the spacecraft’s stern. This additional shielding should help limit the harsh conditions the devices will be exposed to during ground testing, and possibly in flight.

Ship 20, August 2021. (SpaceX – Elon Musk)
Ship 24, July 2022. (SpaceX)

Super Heavy Booster 7 Already completed a good deal of testing, including four cryoproofs and a Raptor thruster simulation test. Since its third return to the pillow, SpaceX has undergone many arcane tests, none of which seem to involve refrigerated fuel loading. Those tests will likely focus more on the Booster 7’s pressure system, possibly filling its tanks with hot oxygen and methane gases that it will eventually use to pressurize its tanks. SpaceX likely wants to put the Booster 7 through at least one successful rehearsal — using real liquid methane and oxygen fuel — before attempting to launch any of the 33 Raptor aircraft of prey. Booster 7 rear thermal protection system is not completely Completed, so technicians will need to finish installing several more panels before any static fire test.

SpaceX technicians are handling one of dozens of heat shields that will eventually protect the Raptors Super Heavy B7 from themselves. (NASASpaceflight – Bokashikagal | Jul 3, 2022)

Besides B7, Starship S24 has completed a good amount of cryoproof and Raptor propulsion simulation test, which survived without any irreparable problems. The ship was then returned to the assembly bay on June 9, where workers were installing heat shield tiles, finalizing the ship’s engine section, and completing dozens of other less obvious shutdown tasks. SpaceX also recently finished modifying one of its two semi-orbital test and launch mounts for spacecraft testing, leaving the other mount semi-permanently modified for testing simulated cold and thrust for future prototypes.

SpaceX requested permission to Road closures – Each potential 12-hour test window – on July 5, 6, 7, 11 and 12.

SpaceX fits Starship, Super Heavy with dozens of Raptor engines

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