announced that the eighth prototype of the Spaceship (SN8) has received the three Raptor engines with which the planned 15.25 km (50,000 ft) are to be covered.
Will be less roomy with 3 vacuum rocket engines added pic.twitter.com/pKtDFdiZYC— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 14, 2020
The addition of the three Raptor engines came after the SN8 underwent three rounds of cryogenic proof testing last week. The first was a success according to the test parameters, but how
, a small leak “opened near the engine bearings, possible due to differential shrinkage.” After repairs, a second and third round took place over the next few days.
Cryo pressure test succeeded, but a small leak opened up near the engine mounts, possibly due to differential shrinking— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 7, 2020
Similarly, the company tested its SN7.1 test tank for errors on the evening of September 23rdThis happened after two successful hop tests with the prototypes SN5 and SN6, which both flew at 150 m (~ 500 ft) and landed safely. Three Raptor engines (models SN 39) were installed on Sunday after the thrust lifters were removed from under the hull of the SN8.With these motors now integrated, it is clear that SpaceX is preparing for the first static fire test in which multiple motors are started at the same time. In preparation for this, the ground teams will use the SN8 to conduct an extensive series of tests consisting of refueling tests, a spin prime test and pre-burner tests.
After the static fire test is complete, the ground team reviews the data to determine the performance of the engines and associated systems. This is followed by the integration of the nose cone, to which its aerodynamic surfaces (its front fins or canards) are currently attached – similar to how the fuselage has received the two large flags on its sides.
Live-Streaming-Material von Mary McConnaughey (aka) der NASA Spaceflight. @BocaChicaGal) showed the SpaceshipThe nose cone gets its fins and is then brought into the windbreak of the facility (video below). Once the entire hull is stacked and combined, a second static fire test is expected – only this time the propellant is stored in the collection tank in the bow cone.
If everything goes according to plan, the SN8 will attempt the highest hop test yet. So far, the highest altitude a prototype reached was 150 m (~ 500 ft), which was the first of the Spaceship hopperfollowed by SN5 and SN6. The ~ 15.25 km hop test also includes a “belly flop” maneuver to test this Spaceship aerodynamic surfaces.
This maneuver begins as soon as the SN8 has reached its highest altitude and begins to descend. At this point the ground team will turn off the engines and tilt the prototype’s hull towards the ground. The SN8 then relies on its maneuvering fins to control its descent, and its engines are re-ignited at the last second for safe up and down landing.
Meanwhile, the SN9 prototype is currently in Mid Bay in Boca Chica while preparations are underway for stacking the SN10 in the opposite bay. The SN11 is also preparing for batch operations, and sections of the facility that are expected to be used to manufacture the SN12, SN13 and SN14 prototypes have been seen (video below).
Back in August, musk
that the newer SN40 Raptor engine will be tested at the company’s test facility in McGregor, Texas. In addition, work on the High Bay facility in which the Very difficult is stacked – sections of this were also seen around Boca Chica. All of this is in line with SpaceX’s rapid prototyping and bug testing policy, which requires backup prototypes to be in place.
SN40 is about to be tested & has several upgrades over 330 bar engine. For reference, 330 bar on Raptor produces ~225 tons (half a million pounds) of force.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 17, 2020
It remains unclear when this altitude hop test will take place, but Musk has indicated several times over the past month that it will take place soon. Musk has also said he hopes to orbital flight one of his prototypes next year. This will be the last hurdle before commercial areas can be started with the vehicle.
Further reading: Teslarati, NASA SpaceFlight
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