SpaceX Starship Updates: For the first time ever, it appears that SpaceX has begun delivering large quantities of cryogenic liquids to Starship’s orbital launchpad – still under construction but rapidly approaching some level of initial operational capability.
Sometime in the morning of September 19, a semi-truck carrying cryogenic liquid nitrogen (LN2) transport trailer arrived at SpaceX’s Starbase launch facilities.
Normally, this would be a completely mundane, uninterrupted event: SpaceX has used and for the uncertain future to safely proof-test Starship prototypes and supercool their liquid methane (LCH4) and oxygen (LOX) propellants. We, Will, continue to use liquid nitrogen for
However, so far, 100% of all Starbase cryogen deliveries have gone to the suborbital launch site, where two “mounts” and some solid aprons have supported all Starship and superheavy tests and launches.
Instead, it headed exclusively to the first orbital tank farm of the LN2 tanker Starbase and began unloading its cryogenic liquid cargo at several new fill stations designed specifically for the task.
By all appearances the first time the farm’s actual main tank has been filled with anything, it appears that liquid nitrogen has been loaded into one or both of the two insulated LOX tanks.
There are two or three main explanations. First, SpaceX could test those more or less full tanks with its first cryogenic liquids. Those partial ‘cryo proof’ tests will also help clean and flush the interior of LOX tanks, removing earthly debris or contamination that can become a major hazard when submerged in high-density oxidizers.
Given that both tanks can easily hold ~1300 tonnes (~2.9M lb) of liquid nitrogen, 70 tonnes is more clunky than a test, however, a semi-decent bare performance would require an order of magnitude more -Minimum cryo proof.
The other distinct possibility is that SpaceX plans to use only one or both of the two prepared orbital pad tanks to temporarily store liquid nitrogen for Super Heavy Booster 4’s first cryogenic-proof test. Either way, SpaceX has scheduled the test window every day this week, starting with a six-hour window that opens at 5 p.m. CDT (on and after Sept. 20).
In separate news, as the Starship and Superheavy tests schedule a full week, with road and beach closures for up to 30 hours for Starship and Super Heavy testing, SpaceX will launch the first orbital-class ship and booster. Working hard to prepare for many majors. challenges.
The first rolled out at SpaceX’s Starbase orbital launch site more than six weeks ago and was first stacked together on August 6, with the company finalizing Starship 20 (S20) and Super Heavy Booster 4 (B4). Spent the last month – from heat shield installation to plumbing and wiring.
Perhaps most importantly, SpaceX has also installed some or all of the Raptor engines that are expected to support the first static fireworthiness tests of the ship and booster.
For a number of reasons, those steady fires — and some additional testing expected to precede them — could be a huge milestone for SpaceX’s Starship program. SpaceX installed a full 29 Raptor engines on the super heavy B4 last month.
After returning to Starbase, those engines were removed and eventually reinstalled a few weeks later – albeit with several replacements. Now, after spending the past 11 days sitting on the orbital pad’s launch mount, SpaceX has begun replacing at least one of Booster 4’s 29 installed engines.
It’s not clear why SpaceX is replacing the engines on the launch pad — rather than bringing the Super Heavy back to the building site for the third time — an encouraging sign that the B4 is nearly ready for its first proof and stable fire tests.
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Information Source: Youtube – DiscoverZen