SpaceX’s second flight-proven starship makes way for the next ‘test tank’

Four days after the rocket’s hop debut, SpaceX has returned to an assembly building to resume its second flight-proven starship prototype, allowing a new ‘test tank’ to be built on the launch pad.

Known as Starship Serial Number Six (SN6), the ~ 30m (~ 100ft) tall prototype became the second full-scale starship to fly on September 3, following in the footsteps of SN5, a similar ~ Before descending to reach 150 m (~ 500 ft) apogi. More or less similar to SN5’s own early August 4 debut, it marked the second hop of an entirely different starship prototype in 30 days – an almost certainly unprecedented feat in the history of large-scale rocket development.

Significant work remains to accelerate the post-hop process, which currently appears as some ~ 48 hours of gradual, uncontrolled detunking and depressurization. Regardless, at least four days after a successful launch and landing, the Starship SN6 was withdrawn for SpaceX’s Boca Chica, Texas production facilities around 9pm CDT, 7 September. Five hours after that, the starship test tank SN7.1 – the second in a planned series of two – was loaded onto the same transporter and sent down the road to the launch pad.

SpaceX has returned the starship SN6 to its roost in preparation for the new disastrous test tank campaign. (Nasascephalite – bocachaigal)

Since its first expectation for the past 30 days, SpaceX has inspected and refurbished the Starship SN5 to support what it described as CEO Elon Musk. [the] Launch process. ”The success of SN6 (and thus the abandoned launch infrastructure) means that SN5 will almost certainly be reused in the near future. It is unclear how many hops would be required to adapt to a smooth process for the starship launch operation but 4+ (2 x SN 5, 2 x SN 6) seems a safe bet.

However, the SN5’s second hope will have to wait. Next to SpaceX’s performance in South Texas, it is the fifth in a series of deliberately destructive tank tests that are used to qualify (or disqualify) new starship designs, construction techniques, and materials. Known as the Starship SN7.1, this special test tank is the second in a series of two to determine the capabilities of a new steel alloy.

The first tank, the SN7, was (successfully) tested for destruction on 23 June and is believed to have reached record pressure before it failed. Perhaps more importantly, an unintentional leak during one of the SN7’s first pressure testing efforts proved that the new 304L (-ish) steel was made from an alloy that would make some failure modes less destructive (i.e. a violent one. A leak instead of broken).

SN7, 15 June. (Nasascephalite – bokachikgal
SN7.1, 4 September. (Nasascephalite – bocachaigal)

The SN7 was a single basic test tank: an upper dome, lower dome and three steel rings. The SN7.1 is significantly more complex, with the base connecting a skirt section with a hold-down clamp and the hanger dome replaced with a dome dome and thrust puck (Raptor engine attachment points). SN7 was loaded and pressurized only with cryogenic liquid nitrogen. The SN7.1 – thanks to the addition of a thrust puck and skirt section – will perform similar cryo pressure tests, but will also be subject to the simulated thrust of three Raptor engines with a series of hydraulic wraps.

So far, SpaceX is likely to have road closures from 8am to CDT today and tomorrow (8 September) – the earliest opportunity for the SN 7.1 trial to begin tomorrow.

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