Given how important they are to the Artemis Program, this is a topic to discuss SpaceX’s Starship and Super Heavy.
Alas, not today. SpaceX says expect a minimum of 48 hours to make another attempt, which would be no sooner than Wednesday.
“With just under 9 minutes to go in the countdown, SpaceX announced an issue with the pressurization system on Starship’s first stage.” (Space. com) (“A pressurant valve appears to be frozen …”, tweeted Musk.)
@FlyingSquid clearly chose the wrong song.
And Starbase is already replenishing the tank farm for the next attempt.
Given the sheer volume of propellant required for just one launch, I have to wonder how SpaceX proposes to maintain the levels necessary for a launch every few hours as is the long range plan.
SpaceX is targeting as soon as Thursday, April 20 for the first flight test of a fully integrated Starship and Super Heavy rocket from Starbase in Texas. The 62 minute launch window opens at 8:28 a.m. CT and closes at 9:30 a.m. CT.
And we finally have an official mission patch:
There’s a reason nobody else makes launch vehicles out of stainless steel. Also their transpiring heat shielding concept sounds like it will take a lot of water to make it work, which also adds quite a bit of weight. They really need the massive rockets and that much fuel to get that thing off the ground. Good luck to them, but I feel they are making a massive mistake.
Like everything else, it’s a tradeoff. Yes, stainless steel is heavier, but it has its advantages, too:
- Considerably more heat resistant than carbon fiber or aluminum-lithium alloys, so less heat shielding is required to preserve structural strength during reentry. So while the hull is heavier, SpaceX saves weight on the TPS, inner tank insulation, stringers for stiffening, etc. The stainless steel construction of Super Heavy means that it won’t need to do an entry burn, which leaves more propellant for boost-back and landing.
- Better strength at cryogenic temperatures than carbon fiber, no insulation required. Just ask Lockheed Martin about the problems the X-33 propellant tanks had…
- Much easier to work with than carbon fiber or aluminum-lithium alloys, especially for making running changes like SpaceX has been doing. “Oh, let’s try cutting out a Starlink v2.0 Pez dispenser opening in Starship and tack weld some additional stringers around it!” Try that with carbon fiber without reworking the entire lamination process of the hull section. And we should have some comparison in a few years when Rocket Lab gets Neutron closer to the launch pad.
Any future use of transpiration cooling is presently seen to be very limited, at best, and was probably going to involve using methane as the coolant. The hexagonal ceramic TPS tiles (that have had an unfortunate tendency to pop off…) have been the current path for several years now.
The Rocket Equation plays no favorites. If SpaceX can make the math work and engineer the rocket according to the math, it should work. The Space Shuttle in many ways was an even crazier design requiring even more technological breaththroughs during its development in the 1970s.
Maybe. But that’s why the excitement is guaranteed!
I just thought it was going to go through the roof is all.
“a rapid unscheduled disassembly”
As much as I would have liked to see a successful second stage near-orbital insertion, this is still a very successful first launch of the Super Heavy first stage. Maybe all the engines didn’t fire for the full duration, but it didn’t blow up before clearing the tower or reaching MECO! It stayed on course! Those are huge wins for the first flight of a rocket this complex (to put it in context, the Falcon 1 required four launches to get farther than this). And while SpaceX obviously knows it has to re-examine how the second stage is decoupled from the first, it now has empirical data to study.
Assuming the launch platform and tower aren’t significantly damaged, we could see another launch attempt in just a few months. Booster 9 and Ship 26 are just about complete.
As far as I know, the launch facilities are fine.
They had engine problems from the off. Three or four never fired, and they lost a few more during the initial burn. By the time they reached staging, the rocket was already in trouble, and then staging failed.
I agree any test where you can learn something is a success. How many NASA rockets failed in those early days. They will take the data learnt from this test and hopefully the next one will be a success.
Gotta say though it was amazing seeing that thing lift off!
I’m in agreement with their announcer (Kate Tice?), the goal today was to rise above the tower. Everything else was gravy.
Granted, from the inside, today’s test launch might have been one “oh, that’s not good” after another until someone was required to push the button. But the teams now have “reams” of performance data they didn’t have before, as guides to make improvements for the next launch test.
I’m not sure the launch facilities are fine.
They lost some panels off one of the buildings, but I think the tower structure itself is okay. That was the big concern.