US, WASHINGTON (ORDO NEWS) — SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk posted on Sunday (May 3) an image showing the bottom of the latest Starship prototype, SN4, which is on a test bench at the company’s site in South Texas. The picture shows the only Raptor SN4 engine, looking very lonely in the center of diameters of 9 meters.
“Soon, the SN4 fire tests.” The predator looks so simple,” Musk tweeted.
As Musk noted, Raptor will soon receive a training in the form of a “static fire” test, during which the engine will work and the rocket will remain on the ground. SpaceX originally intended to test the engine on Sunday evening, but canceled it because the Raptor liquid methane fuel got too warm, Musk explained in another tweet. The next attempt will be made shortly.
If the static fire test goes well, SpaceX will begin to prepare for a test flight without a crew with SN4, lifting the prototype about 150 meters high into the warm sky of South Texas.
Future prototypes will fly much higher. For example, the SN5 will have three Raptor engines and SpaceX plans to ship it about 20 kilometers up, Musk said.
The final Starship will be even more powerful, with six engines. According to Mask, a 50-meter ship for 100 passengers will be able to lift itself from the surface of the moon and Mars. But he will need help to break out of the gravitational trap of our planet.
Thus, it will launch from Earth on top of a giant rocket called Super Heavy, which will be powered by dozens of Raptor engines. In earlier designs, Super Heavy was planned with 37 engines, but Musk recently tweeted that the rocket would be powered by “only” 31 Raptor engines.
Both Super Heavy and Starship will be fully reused, potentially reducing the cost of space travel to allow the colonization of Mars and the Moon, Musk said. For example, NASA has just signed a contract with SpaceX to develop Starship as a lunar landing ship to deliver astronauts to the lunar surface for the Artemis program, which aims to land people in 2024.
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