Part of the SpaceX spacecraft's first test structure, assembled at the launch site in South Texas. The photo was posted by Ilon Musk on Twitter on December 24, 2018
The Executive Director of SpaceX, Ilon Mask, reports that a redesigned test mechanism for a reusable launch system of a new generation may be ready in early 2019. On December 24th, Musk published a photo of the two parts of the structure, signing the “Star ship made of stainless steel”.
Starship (Star Ship, Starship) - a new name assigned to the ship (or rather the upper stage of the launch vehicle) last month. Previously, the model was called the Big Falcon Rocket (BFR). The company is working on a test model for summer tests at low altitudes. The part of the construction, which was called the “bunker”, covers 9 m in diameter.
SpaceX filed an application with the Federal Communications Commission on November 19, requesting an experimental license to support communication with the “bunker” during the upcoming flights. The company said it had planned a series of flights at low altitude (no more than 500 m) and high altitude (5000 m), which would be conducted on the Texas site. The license was expected to be received within two years.
Mask believed that the flights would begin at the end of 2019, but on December 22 he wrote that the dates could be shifted to the beginning of the next year. He hopes to conduct a technical presentation of Starship in March-April, after the flight test version. In his messages, Musk also confirmed the news of the change in the materials used to assemble the car. Initially (2016-2017s) envisaged the use of carbon composite materials, characterized by lightness and high density. But now Ilon Musk writes that he switched to “heavier material”.
We are talking about stainless steel, namely the group of alloys 300 Series, which retain their strength at high temperatures. Stainless steel is endowed with slightly better strength characteristics at cryogenic temperatures required for fuel tanks. However, Musk admits that steel loses to the carbon composite at room temperature.
The test model will operate on three methane / liquid oxygen engines under development. The engines that SpaceX initially worked with the financial support of the US Air Force also changed. The Raptor rocket engine will be ready to be fired next month.
The company developed a supersplash for the Raptor, which was called the SX500. It is designed to process hot gas rich in oxygen, at pressures up to 12,000 pounds per square inch. Recall that Starship is a spacecraft of a new generation, which Ilon Musk plans to use to launch cargo and people into orbit, Mars and beyond.