Beijing time on Wednesday morning, the United States SpaceX’s “Starship” prototype SN5 completed the first aerial hover test, clearing the way for the future development of the spacecraft. Although it is still a long way from humans to land on Mars with the help of such spacecraft, Sugon, who is used to assist humans on the moon, has been seen. NASA’s director went so far as to say that it “absolutely could change the rules of the game in space exploration.”
SpaceX is working on a prototype of a large reusable spacecraft that will send humans to the moon and Mars, taking off from a launch pad in southern Texas at 7:57 p.m. Esther Et (8:57 a.m. On Wednesday), flying to an altitude of about 150 meters before landing on a nearby landing pad, Spacex said in an article on Spaceflightnow’s website Friday, entitled “SpaceX clears the way for the next generation of starships.”
Live video from the network showed the prototype slowly liftoff from the launch pad at the SpaceX test site in Boca Chica, Texas, before hovering and landing slowly. During a flight of about 45 seconds, the lateral movement distance is about the length of a football field. The Starship did not install a rectifier and a stable wing surface because it was only a low-altitude hover test, so it looked like a large boiler.
Spaceflightnow reported that the subject of the first successful 150-meter-high “jump” test was actually the Starship’s full-size propellant fuel tank. The successful test laid the groundwork for a series of incremental intra-atmosphere verification flights. The test flight was designed to test the guided system of the Starship, the structural strength of the stainless steel fuel tank, and other basic functions before attempting to launch to higher altitudes. SpaceX tried to test the Starship on Monday night, but the company aborted the flight before the rocket took off, and another countdown on Tuesday afternoon was also suspended, with the final flight test successfully flying on Tuesday evening. This has led to “structural damage” to four “Starship” prototypes in previous ground tests.
The prototype is powered by a SpaceX-developed Raptor engine, which uses methane and liquid oxygen as fuel and oxidant, and the raptor engine, which adjusts the thrust to produce up to 440,000 pounds (about 200 tons) of thrust at full power, is the most powerful methane-fueled rocket engine ever built.
SpaceX has produced more “starships” at its Boca Chica site, one of which can attempt to fly 20 kilometers above the ground, but SpaceX or Musk have yet to announce a test flight schedule. The high-altitude experiment will require SpaceX to install a rectifier and pneumatic surface on a future “starship” that reduces resistance. Higher flights will require the installation of three Raptor engines, and the six-engine “Starship” that will eventually enter orbit, and a heat shield to re-enter the atmosphere. With the nasal cone, the entire “Starship” will reach a height of 50 meters. The prototype, which flew Tuesday, is about 9 meters in diameter, about 1.5 times the diameter of the Boeing 747 jumbo jet.
SpaceX’s ultimate goal is to use a larger thrust rocket called the “overweight” to put the “starship” into orbit and deliver giant payloads, satellites, telescopes and scientific probes into space, According to U.S. media.
Combined with the first stage of the “overweight” rocket, the entire combined body of about 120 meters high “overweight” rocket will be powered by more than 30 Raptor engines, making it the most powerful rocket ever built – generating about 16 million pounds of thrust. SpaceX says a “starship” could carry more than 100 tons of cargo into low-Earth orbit. SpaceX says it will eventually replace its current spacecraft, the Falcon 9 Falcon Heavy rocket and the Dragon, with a “starship.” But the vehicles won’t be decommissioned until SpaceX proves the capabilities and reliability of the Starship.
SpaceX’s long-term goal also includes a “refueling in orbit” feature that will make it possible for Americans to return to the moon. NASA chose SpaceX’s “Starship” to compete with Blue Origin and Dynetics for the manned lunar lander project. NASA will fund a manned mission to the moon later in the 1920s.
Reported that the “Starship” is the core of SpaceX’s future ambitious space program, according to Musk’s idea, the future “Starship” can carry 100 people to travel to Mars together. But from a practical point of view, landing on the moon may be Musk’s first consideration. While NASA is considering commercializing the “starship” as a round-trip tool for transporting astronauts between lunar orbit and the moon’s surface, NASA plans to rely on the government-backed Space Launch System (SLS) heavy rocket and The Orion crew capsule in the 1920s to transport astronauts from Earth to the moon and then humans back to the moon.
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said the SLS and Orion spacecraft offer the only chance to send humans to the moon by 2024, a timetable set by the Trump administration last year. But that could change after 2024, if SpaceX’s Starship or other aircraft are successfully developed. In April, Jim Bridenstine said SpaceX’s “Starship” “could definitely change the rules of the game in space exploration.” (Zhang Yichi)