SpaceX making ‘well over 1,000’ changes to Starship ahead of next launch

SpaceX apparently learned a lot from the first-ever test flight of its giant Starship rocket two months ago.

The company has made more than 1,000 changes to Starship’s design since that landmark April 20 liftoff, which ended with a controlled destruction of the vehicle high over the Gulf of Mexico, SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk told journalist Ashlee Vance in a discussion on Twitter on Saturday (June 24).

SpaceX sent that self-destruct command after Starship experienced a number of problems, including the failure of the vehicle’s two stages to separate as planned. The company is taking pains to ensure that latter issue doesn’t recur on Starship’s next flight, Musk said.

“So, we made a sort of late-breaking change that’s really quite significant to the way that stage separation works, which is to use hot staging,” Musk said. 

“In hot staging, the upper-stage engines of a vehicle start firing before the first-stage booster engines finish shutting down. This technique, commonly used in Russian rockets, is expected to increase Starship’s payload-to-orbit capacity by approximately 10%, according to Musk.

However, implementing hot staging on Starship required several design modifications. Musk explained that an extension with vents is being added to the booster to redirect the superhot plasma from the upper-stage engines. This vented extension will allow the upper-stage engine plume to pass through without causing damage.

During the April 20 launch, the orbital launch mount at SpaceX’s Starbase facility in South Texas was significantly damaged. As a result, SpaceX is undertaking repairs and taking measures to prevent similar damage in future launches. One of these measures includes pouring reinforced high-strength concrete, approximately 35,300 cubic feet (1,000 cubic meters), at the mount. Additionally, a water-spouting steel plate, resembling a large upside-down shower head, is being installed to counteract the intense heat generated by the 33 Raptor engines on the first stage of Starship.

The Starship used in the April 20 launch had a combination of Raptors that were built and tested over the course of a year, resulting in a somewhat mixed collection. However, the next Starship to fly will feature more uniform engines with minor but significant improvements. Musk mentioned that these changes, such as an improved design of the hot gas manifold and higher torque on the bolts, are technical details known to enthusiasts.

The objective of the April 20 launch was to send Starship’s upper stage partway around Earth, concluding with a splashdown in the Pacific near Hawaii. The next launch is expected to have similar objectives. Musk informed Vance that the launch pad and the next Starship vehicle, consisting of Booster 9 and Ship 25 prototypes, should be ready for launch in approximately six weeks.

However, the timeline is not entirely within SpaceX’s control. Currently, a coalition of environmental groups is suing the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, alleging that the agency did not follow proper procedures.”

But SpaceX isn’t in complete control of the timeline. For example, a coalition of environmental groups is currently suing the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, claiming the agency didn’t properly assess the damage Starship launches can cause to the South Texas environment and community.

Information Source:

Read More:-

2 thoughts on “SpaceX making ‘well over 1,000’ changes to Starship ahead of next launch”

Leave a Comment