SpaceX is one step closer to successfully launching its Starship Rocket to space by the end of 2020. The latest full-scale improved prototype of the high-performance Raptor Engine fired up successfully for the first time. The spacecraft survived the entire process and is now one step closer to being in space. Though the Raptor engine is not new, this new prototype is the most powerful object in the arsenal of the spacecraft since the beginning of the Starship program.
The Starship 4 (SN4) prototype static fire test is the latest rapid-fire propulsion test completed over a period of time. However, the Starship began its industrial production journey in late March. The SpaceX technology team started making structural integrations in the steel hull from the end of March 2020. But within a month’s time, SpaceX successfully finished off with developing the SN4 tank and engine section. But the nosecone and header tanks are still missing.
SN4 🔥 soon. Raptor looks so smōl. pic.twitter.com/WcMdo6wAtj
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 4, 2020
SpaceX Starship SN4: Raptor Engine test
On April 26, 2020, Starship SN4 became the first fully scaled prototype to survive the infamous “cryogenic proof test“. In this test, the aircraft’s oxygen supply and methane are replaced with non-inflammable liquid nitrogen. Though the SN4 had a pressure base of 4.9 bar it still survived the small flight test. But normally the optimal pressure is between 7.8-8.5 bar for safe orbital flight operations.
The official page shows all details about the new Raptor Engine produced by SpaceX. With that crucial milestone now behind it, Starship SN4 – perhaps pending an additional test or two – should effectively be clear to begin preparations for a 150m (500 ft) hop test later this month.
Almost entirely contingent upon receiving a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) launch license. The process will take several days, even weeks to complete. Starship already has landing legs installed and won’t need a nosecone for such a short and slow hop, but SpaceX may also need to install some kind of altitude control system (likely gas thrusters) before SN4 can safely fly.
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Suryapratim Ray is an engineer, author, robotics hobbyist, and an active Quoran. Being a technical blogger, he covers the good, bad, and ugly of science on a regular basis at Sciencenews18. In addition to his passion for writing, he’s equally keen on learning classical music.