The prototype vehicle SpaceX Starship under the symbol SN4 withstood pressure test the fuel system at flight temperature and pressure, said Elon Musk on Twitter. This is the first successful fully integrated pressure test for project Starship: previous sample SN3 collapsed during them at the beginning of April.
Starship — project super-heavy SpaceX reusable system for space flights, which tested a variety of alternative to rocketry ideas and solutions (for details about them we were told in the material “a strange missile”). Among other things, the rocket is built of steel, and the fuel is liquid methane. The combination of these factors creates special challenges because, on the one hand, liquid methane has a temperature colder than minus one hundred degrees and a pressure of many atmospheres, and with another — nobody in the world has the experience of constructing giant rockets of steel. The only way to achieve the necessary strength, therefore, is a method of trial and error.
SpaceX builds prototypes for different tests and after Starhopper MK1 and started to assign them the index of SN and a sequence number. April third when you try to check the fuel tanks and pipelines at pressure and temperatures typical of the flight, exploded prototype SN3, despite what was announced, even his little flight. The following prototype SN4 was not provided by the wings and, apparently, before creating the flying prototypes, the company decided to deal with the pressure.
On the morning of 27 April, Elon Musk announced the successful completion of the cryogenic compression test SN4. Tanks, for security reasons, inflated with nitrogen instead of methane, according to the head of SpaceX, a pressure of 4.9 bar was reached, which according to him, still small, but fit for flight.
The next step is test firing that will take place at the end of this week or early next. If successful, the prototype will soar to 150 meters, like the Starhopper last year. For this hop will be installed just one engine out of three, provided by the design of the Starship, but the next prototype SN5 designed to fly for several kilometers, will already have a full set of engines and aircraft rudders.
It should be noted that the main priority for SpaceX to date is the completion of the ship’s Crew Dragon. In January, the company successfully tested the recovery system of the ship and flight of a manned spacecraft will take place in the first half of 2020.