This is the latest prototype of SpaceX’s giant spacecraft

A video posted on NASASpaceflight YouTube showed the new prototype being transported to the test area.

A video posted on NASASpaceflight YouTube showed the new prototype being transported to the test area.
screenshot: NASA Spaceflight / Gizmodo.

It’s been 9 months since we last saw a new prototype of ship star leave the factory SpaceX In Texas, United States. The incomplete missile, designated S24, is set to undergo qualification tests, but the company led by Elon Musk still needs regulatory approval to launch the fully stacked system.

The launch of the S24 prototype is a possible sign that SpaceX is on the right track to perform first test from orbital trip of a fully-stacked Starship rocket later this year, as promised by Musk, the company’s founder and CEO. Another promise from Musk, that SpaceX will attempt to launch 12 Starships in 2022, seems overly optimistic at the moment, but even crazier things have happened.

The Starship is designed to transport cargo and passengers to Earth, Moon and Mars orbit. Musk has described it as “a large-scale transmission mechanism for the large solar system”. But more conservatively, the company must prove That craft is capable of transporting astronauts to the Moon, according to a NASA contract. The space agency wants to put astronauts on the moon by 2025, which means SpaceX needs to start working; The fully stacked spacecraft rocket has yet to take off.

So the sudden appearance of the Starship’s S24 model is a good sign for the company. The incomplete unit left the SpaceX factory in the Texas facility yesterday and it was Transfer to the test area. A video posted to NASASpaceflight’s YouTube channel showed the new prototype in transit, providing several clear views of the giant. The prototype will need to pass some basic qualification tests, such as compression tests and refrigeration tests. If all goes well, S24 will move to the sub-orbital platform A for further evaluation, shown. my quests:

Instead of starting directly with static launch tests, SpaceX will reduce the risk of catastrophic failure by using hydraulic cylinders to simulate the thrust of 6 Raptor V2 engines while Starship’s steel tanks and tubes are cooled to frigid temperatures. Only after Ship 24 completes stress tests will SpaceX install the new Raptor engines and [realizará] Several fixed fires.

Hundreds of tiles are missing from the missile and one deck Aerodynamics, but the S24 shows some differences from previous versions, such as a sturdier booster section, new nose, improved landing gear fuel tank, cargo compartment and door, according to Teslarati.

The previous prototype, the S20, debuted in August 2021 and was retired in May 2022. The S20 never took off, but it did undergo static fire tests from the Raptor and was temporarily stacked atop a Super Heavy BN4 booster, turning it into a Biggest missile Not assembled.

Depending on how things go, the S24 could remain on the platform or return to the factory for more work. A prototype could be the upper stage above the Booster 7, which is also being developed at the Boca Chica, Texas facility. According to Super Heavy Booster about to undergo Raptor facility NASASpaceFlight.

However, if SpaceX wants to conduct its orbital test, the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) must complete an environmental review, which is expected to be delivered by May 31. The FAA has postponed this long-awaited review four previous times, but the regulatory agency is expected to publish it next week. The Boca Chica facility, or Starbase, as SpaceX employees know it, is Located On environmentally sensitive land.

The outcome of the audit can have a significant impact on the project; The worst-case scenario for SpaceX would be a full environmental assessment of the Boca Chica site, which could take years. Instead, the FAA could come back with a list of easy-to-resolve recommendations to follow for SpaceX. or something in between. Either way, we will monitor these developments closely.

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Lovell Loxley

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