Countdown to the first flight. Spacecraft advance
Another month went by without SpaceX launching the Starship and Super Heavy, and it’s been delayed again, even though now we’re already sold out. The launch date could be within the next week, just after Easter. However, everything will be very flexible, and we invite you to come to our site Telegram channel To stay up-to-date with all phases of pre-launch. Instead, these extra four weeks served to complete various preparations, particularly related to the Orbital Launch Mount (OLM).
March seemed to be a quiet month, as SpaceX did not run many tests, but focused on the upcoming flight of Ship 24 and Booster 7. Now these two prototypes will be joined again on the launch pad, but after that they will probably be separated again. In fact, they appear to be absent Exploding That makes up the Flight Termination System (FTS), which takes effect to destroy the missile if it deviates from its trajectory, which could cause severe damage in the early part of the flight.
Even if the FTS activation fails during flight, Ship 24 and Booster 7 will be destroyed. This is because Starship and Super Heavy will attempt to perform a Controlled return to seaThus avoiding damage to ground structures during the first test flight.
So let’s see how SpaceX has prepared in the past month, in anticipation of the big event.
Work on OLM is almost complete
Throughout March, SpaceX workers worked to complete the OLM and make the final changes. Most noticeable are the added outer metal panels to protect the tubes that run along the cushion ring. These are used to transport both methane and oxygen, needed to refuel very heavy fuels, and water and nitrogen, used in a firefighting system.
In addition to working on the outside, protection has also been added inside the OLM, where both the hooks that hold the Super Heavy and 20 quick disconnects (QD) of birds of prey. In fact, the 20 motors that make up the outer ring of the booster started with QDs. Shortly before takeoff, these arms are retracted, and returned to the OLM to be protected by special metal guards.
Just to be able to work more easily on the inside of the OLM, Mechazilla on March 10 removed Booster 7 from the board. On March 23rd, workers removed the scaffolding from the tower’s arms, and then, on March 28th, they removed the scaffolding from the top of the OLM as well. This indicates that they finished working on these areas and were able to put Booster 7 on board again on March 29th. Prior to this step, SpaceX retested the Raptor QDs to verify that these systems were working properly.
Tanking stopped at B7, and it looks like SpaceX is starting to dismantle Booster. pic.twitter.com/7MptlwyTv7
– Chris Bergin – NSF (NASASpaceflight) April 3, 2023
With the Super Heavy back on board, SpaceX has resumed retesting. On April 3 they ran several tests, starting with the fire suppression system and then a battery rehearsal for Booster 7, for a full refueling.
Mechazilla is willing to raise the Ship 24, too Thus putting him on Super Heavy for the third timewhich is scheduled for April 5th.
We are also working on new prototypes
Although the focus is almost exclusively on Booster 7 and Ship 24, work continues on other prototypes at Starbase as well. Among these are two different types of stars, the numbers 25 and 26.
Since February 24, Ship 25 has been located at Macy’s Site, an old shooting range that SpaceX purchased and converted for various tests. Here the company has already implemented many of the small tanks or spacecraft parts needed to test certain components. Ship 25 became the first complete composite ship to reach this site and, on March 22, was the first to pass a pressure test in frigid temperatures. This test may have served to verify not so much the tightness of typical tanks as it did Proper functioning of the new fueling systems. In fact, prior to testing at Massey, SpaceX had already run three different pressure tests with this prototype.
However, inside Mega Bay, again on March 22nd, they stacked the two main sections that make up the Super Heavy, thus completing the main structure of Booster 10. Next to this is Booster 9, which at the beginning of March started to have 33 Raptors. Booster 9 is The first to install the new enginesEquipped with an electromechanical actuator. Also in this building, work continues on Booster 11.
The technicians also installed the Raptors on another prototype, Ship 26, which is located in Rocket Garden, not far from Mega Bay. This spacecraft is very special, because it has neither wings nor a heat shield. The engines installed are Raptor optimized for space flight (RVac) and can only be used for static fire tests. These RVacs appear to be equipped with piping for self-pressurization, absent on the Ship’s 24 and 25 Raptors. It is possible that future tests will serve strictly to test this tank pressure system with RVacs and not those of the Air Force.
– Fabian Ramirez (@texas_lizard) March 28, 2023
When will it be launched?
Since the beginning of 2023, this question has come up a lot when it comes to Starship. This is also due to the various statements made by Musk, who announced this important event many times, never respecting deadlines.
Now it looks like the launch of the most powerful tanker ever built by man is imminent, and several sources are reporting that April 10th With the start of take-off day. First of all, notice operational plan activities of the Federal Aviation Administration. However, the US agency has not issued the flight permits yet, so nothing is confirmed yet.
In an Environmental Impact Assessment also prepared by the FAA, SpaceX 75 requested this corrective action. There is no information on the status of these works and it appears that Musk’s company still has to complete some of them. SpaceX has not yet released official statements regarding the launch to avoid relevant actions by PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). The company also fears that protests will take place at Starbase, with the launch area invaded and the consequent impossibility of take-off.
If on the one hand then, it seems that SpaceX barely Ready to go On a technical level, bureaucracy can slow down a company’s plans.
Since this is the first launch attempt for Starship and the Super Heavy, there is also the possibility that this may slip up a few times due to various technical issues. After a task is aborted, it can take up to three days to stage a retry. This is primarily related to the need to replenish land reservoirs with methane and oxygen.
Therefore, the launch date is not yet known, and it probably won’t even be an official statement from SpaceX or Elon Musk. However, once it’s plugged in, we expect some issues, both technical and bureaucratic, that could delay the launch. What is clear is that it hasn’t been that long now, and April will almost certainly be the month we’ll see the first launch of the Starship into space.
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