On the heels of taking off the new year with a groundbreaking record, spacex is set to make a dramatic turnaround with stage zero and renovate necessary facilities to make the 2023 starship launch a reality.
This year 2023 will write a sweet story about the successful operation at a starbase for the Starship to fly into space and return. Remember that Elon has explained that stage 0 is not just the tower.
He said stage 0 includes the tower, launch mount, flame diverter, and propellant tanks. So, talking about stage zero upgrade in this context, we are referring to upgrades that reflect renovation and the replacement of necessary equipment that will be used for the starship construction.
But in this episode today, we will discuss the necessary upgrade done on the launch mount that always receives the impact from the 33 raptor engine of the super heavy booster.
The stage zero launch mount is another giant launch mount that supports the base of the booster rocket to stand vertically. But unluckily for spacex, there have been serious issues with this particular crazy structure that has made spacex go overboard.
As a result, the launch mounts have been seeing serious problems upon the problem for the company, which has affected the Starship’s orbital launch flight. But spacex has to start some renovation to see progress this year, 2023, for the starship launch into the Earth’s orbit.
So what are the big problems about the launch mount that spacex is trying to win? Before we answer this question, let’s talk about what happened to Stage 0 after the terrible explosion in July of 2022.
Because it caught the attention of NASA’s Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel, this was one of the incidents that directly caused Starship’s 2022 flight schedule to be postponed. During a spin Prime test on July 11th, what NASA calls a “high energy event” occurred when propellants ignited underneath the booster and caused damage.
SpaceX has fixed the booster and taken corrective actions. It’s important to remember that after the 14-engine static fire test of booster 7 went well on November 14th, SpaceX had to fix the launch pad before the next set of tests.
At that time, replacing the concrete under the launch mount was one major repair. SpaceX also put the shielding on one of the olm legs quickly. This leg has a lot of pipes and wires that go up into the mount itself.
Once the needed repairs were done, SpaceX fired up 11 engines on B7 for about 13 seconds on November 29th, 2022. This was the longest time that the huge booster had ever been fired. After super heavy B7 was taken out of the olm and brought back to the factory for the sixth time this year, it caused a lot of damage to stage 0 during engine testing.
After that, cranes, lifts, and concrete pumps moved quickly to prepare for the 33-engine static fire. The olm is also getting more shielding around the propellant transfer lines that run up one of the legs, and cladding is still being added near the base of the launch tower.
As SpaceX increases the number of engines being tested on the pad, the claddings will be put up to protect the launch tower’s pipes, electronics, and mechanics during testing. Well, the main problem that spacex will continue facing if they want to reuse the Starship will always be the launch mount.
After every starship test, the olm will be cracking. And no, the cause is not that the launch mount is not well reinforced with concrete, but the 33-raptor engines have their way of destroying anything beneath them when they are all fired up simultaneously.
The 33-raptor engine spacex installed beneath the booster rocket produced around 16.7 million pounds of thrust upon lift-off. But, of course, this high combustive thrust will scatter any ground the raptor engines are facing, and that is why the concrete used to re-enforce the launch mount has always been shattered by the heavy thrust ejected from the nozzle of the booster’s 33 raptor lion engines.
But there is good news; the solution to frequent disastrous damage to the olm has been solved by thermal suppression systems installed on the launch mount. Its function is to reduce the heavy noise background that always shakes the ground when the 33-raptor engines are ignited.
Also, with the help of a high-pressure water supply, explosions from the 33 raptor engines, which look like a storm that could push down any object beneath it, will be dissolved. In addition, we hope the heavy crack on the launch mount that always happens after every static fire test is no longer visible.
That means spacex is getting more confident and closer to the timeline to launch the Starship. Even though spacex hasn’t had a complete wet dress rehearsal and full 33-engine static fire, which lasts for up to 20 minutes, parts of these procedures have already been done, but since we’re talking about technology, there are still a lot of things that could go wrong before a launch.
And launching the first ever powerful rocket with many energetic engines could lead us to possible damage in one way or the other. As you’ve always witnessed, even if there are issues, the way SpaceX conducts its engineering and any fixes needed means delays will be minimal.
If Starship becomes operational, it will be a game changer for the space company and stature to replicate Nasa’s historical footprint in space. Also, improvement was not only made on the orbital launch mount, but spacex has to do little touching on the mechazilla launch tower, especially in terms of the Chopstick arms.
These arms were built to make it easier and faster to lift, move, and stack the Starship and its super heavy boosters, but they can also catch part of the Starship as it comes back to Earth, saving time, energy, resources, wear and tear on equipment.
Unfortunately, the Chopsticks Hydraulics system has also been failing, disappointing spacex engineers as needing to be more expert in their craft. On August 6th, 2022, there will be a test. Again, there was no fire, nothing was broken, and no one was hurt, but the problem caused a delay and made people wonder about safety.
What would have happened if the hydraulics system had broken down in the middle of a lift? Well, it could have been very bad, but the good Engineers at SpaceX had to see through it and prevent the damage. After the failure, SpaceX changed its Chopstick arms so that they could catch a booster in the next few days.
Hydraulic pistons were added to the Chopsticks, this was observed from far by official photographer, Kevin Randolph, who got the best shot of what was happening. As always, a big thanks to Mr. Randolph.
Musk has said that the goal of this upgrade is to make it possible for the upcoming Starship launch to catch the booster on the first try. It’s crazy that this is even a consideration, but it’s looking more and more likely. SpaceX also made a few changes to the orbital tank farm in 2022.
It made the first orbital glass Starship tank farm, a small and pleasingly symmetrical set of eight vertical storage tanks, without considering basic Texas regulations for storing liquid natural gas and methane. Unfortunately, this caused a delay in filling the orbital tank farm. SpaceX fixed the problem by storing little amount of liquid methane at the orbital tank farm.
This will finally let SpaceX try the first major wet dress rehearsals and, more importantly, the first full static fires with flight-ready super heavy booster prototypes. A tank farm with full supplies of liquid oxygen, liquid methane, liquid nitrogen, and their gaseous equivalents is also needed for the first orbital Starship launch attempt, which has been pushed back from mid-2021 to no earlier than the first quarter of 2023.
So far, Elon Musk has yet to consider using the flame diverter that an engineer working on the Raptor engines suggested. Likewise, Elon may have yet to think about how the flame diverter could pull flames out of the olm, just like our kitchen’s smoke extraction system works.
So let’s wait until Elon buys the idea. We’d all love to see the bird starship fly. Of course, yes. But the FAA is the biggest problem SpaceX will face in the next few days. So we think that now is the right time for Mr. Musk to put together all of his power with people who work with the government and start putting pressure on them to be one of the prominent government officials in the white house.
This will make it easier to solve any problems that SpaceX might have with the government or FAA during any launch attempt. Elon might have missed this chance to get things done more than once, and now that the Democrats are in charge, they don’t care if SpaceX succeeds. So Elon should consider joining the Democrats if he wants SpaceX to do well.
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