SpaceX cranks the spaceship’s engines and sets the starbase on fire

SpaceX cranks the spaceship’s engines and sets the starbase on fire

SpaceX cranks the spaceship’s engines and sets the starbase on fire

Despite a major prairie fire due to a lack of blast protection, this huge success brings the spacecraft closer to its long-awaited maiden flight.

A little less than a year ago, SpaceX went through a particularly difficult period due to the setbacks of the Raptor V2, its latest generation rocket engine. The latter has given engineers a lot of headaches, to the point of putting the company in a tight spot (see our article). But these galleys seem to have finished well and truly; This evening, SpaceX conducted the first simultaneous ignition test of all six Raptor V2 engines on its 24th prototype spaceship.

It is not the first time that the machine has been subjected to this test called “static fire”, Which consists in hooking the machine to the ground to test its engines at full speed. But the last time SpaceX conducted such a test, the spaceship was still equipped with the first version of the Raptor; this is the first time that six copies of the Raptor V2 have been pushed to the limit at the same time on the same machine.

And the least we can say is that they work wonderfully. Together they produced a cumulative boost of approx 1380 tons – an all-time record on Starbase, SpaceX’s launch base in Boca Chica. For comparison, it is almost double the thrust developed by the first stage of the Falcon 9 launch vehicleSpaceX’s current flagship!

The test also lasted for 8 seconds, making it one of the longest static fires ever performed by a spaceship.

A big prairie fire around

The test images are still as impressive as one would expect. The shot produced a deafening din and a huge cloud of flames and smoke. And if the scene was so photogenic, it’s because, as usual, SpaceX didn’t it was not considered necessary to use a cooking station equipped with flues – these trenches that serve to channel the jets of incandescent gas from the engines.

The company has n also unused delugethese huge jets of water that usually line the launch pad to reduce launch noise and avoid the structural damage associated with these extreme acoustic waves.

Bad news for the concrete on the poor launch pad. The latter finds itself regularly shattered by SpaceX tests due to the Dante forces and temperatures they produce. And this also has direct consequences on the surrounding meadows.

For the reasons mentioned above, Starship launches regularly cause small fires that are quickly kept under control. But this time around, the six Raptors V2 sparked a Great Prairie Fire at Starbase Site. Some witnesses managed to capture some images.

It is difficult to realize the extent of the phenomenon on these videos; but according to Teslarati, observers on the scene described it as a fire “principal“. Obviously, it has nothing to do with the massive wildfires that have hit drylands in the United States or Australia in recent years. But it would spread at an unusual rate in a SpaceX landfill that would burn for several hours.

However, it turns out that the meadows in question are ecological niches protected by local legislation. This is part of the reason why it took SpaceX so long to get FAA clearance. Recall that this is the federal agency that carried out its environmental audit of the Starbase (see our article).

The big Starship premiere is not far off

The agency will likely consider this when granting the final launch license to SpaceX, as such fires are far from desirable in a protected area; in hindsight, it seems rather surprising that he hadn’t already required the installation of a deluge or flue system. But in practice, there is hardly any chance the FAA will ground the spacecraft for this reason.

However, the incident has finally been brought under control. The engineers were therefore able to rejoice as they should for this great success; takes the spaceship one step closer to its first trip to orbit.

This will be an absolutely decisive step that will take SpaceX to the next level. Elon Musk has been teasing the arrival of this latest generation spaceship for years. In particular, he will lead the last phase of the Artemis program. In the long run, he will also play a pivotal role in the conquest of Mars, which the billionaire has long dreamed of.

We will therefore have to watch out for SpaceX announcements in the coming weeks. The baptism of orbit is fast approaching and promises to open a new chapter in the history of aerospace. And in the meantime, we can already begin to imagine what a similar test will look like with the Super Heavy launcher that will propel the spaceship using its … 33 Raptors V2. The poor launch pad definitely has something to worry about!

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