Elon Musk confirmed on Twitter that the construction of the Starship SN8 prototype will be complete “in about a week.”
An Architectural Upgrade
In terms of rocket aerodynamics, both the nose cone and the body flaps are designed to provide stability and control. In essence, they allow the spacecraft to maintain its predetermined trajectory and prevent it from wobbling uncontrollably in the air.
Additionally, both components minimize air resistance, or drag, that affects a rocket’s motion and its flight direction.
After the Construction, the Standard Tests and then the Hop
Musk also stated on Twitter that the SN8 will undergo a static fire test, some checkouts and then a second static fire test.
As previously stated, a static fire is one of the most critical tests for any spacecraft. A launch vehicle cannot become fully operational before undergoing such a test.
A static fire test is the process of firing the engines of a rocket at full thrust. The engines are fired for approximately 10 seconds while the launch vehicle remains tethered to the ground.
In SpaceX’s case, the reusable rocket engine that will be tested is the Raptor. The SN8 will have three Raptor engines connected to it, whereas the SN5 and SN6 sported only a single engine.
This will enable the SN8 to fly much higher than the previous two prototypes, before returning back to the ground for a controlled landing. According to Musk, the SN8 must be able to “fly to 60,000 ft [approximately 18.3 kilometers] & back.”
The checkouts Musk was referring to were the hardware checkouts and to see if there are defects of any type.
All in all, SpaceX is slowly iterating towards a final version of the Starship. The final version will be 165 be 165-feet-tall (50 meters), and will feature six Raptor engines. According to Musk, it will also be capable of carrying up to 100 people on the Moon, Mars and other destinations.
The fully-operational Starship will launch from Earth atop the Super Heavy rocket. The latter will be powered by 30 Raptor engines.
Both components will be designed to be fully-reusable. As previously mentioned, one of the main goals of SpaceX is to drive down the cost of space access.
Regarding short-term goals, SpaceX’s objective for Starship is to perform hop tests for all its prototypes until they are all successful. So far, none have failed!
And now, time to kick it up a notch with the SN8!