Around 7:15 pm local time, the SpaceX Starship prototype SN8 fired a third or more Raptor engines for the third time, capturing spectators – expecting only a dress rehearsal – to their surprise. An hour later, CEO Alan Musk revealed that SpaceX had effectively lost control of the rocket.
Unfortunately for SpaceX, this is not the first time that A.S. Starship lost control due to fire. In May 2020, Starship Serial No. 4 (SN4) – the first full-scale prototype to install the Raptor – completed its third successful static fire test. Moments later, a vent line adjacent to the engine compartment caught fire, burning for a minute or two. Eventually, due to potentially damaged wires or plumbing, SpaceX lost control of the SN4 and had to wait a full two days for the cryogenic propellant to boil and evaporate, before teams could inspect the rocket. Reach out to do, repair and regain control.
Now, more than likely, Starship SN8 has had such an impact – but not the same – failure, cutting some control levels. Alan Musk took to Twitter about an hour after the rocket’s third rapper caught fire, revealing that SpaceX had lost control of the starship’s molecular science, citing hydraulic systems needed to operate most of the rocket’s valves . For SN8, that meant nothing more than bad news.
As the cryogenic liquid (and everything in general) heats up, they expand, taking on more volume. To combat the never ending process of cryogenic propellant heating, boiling and gas moving, fresh propellant is loaded almost continuously while the hot gas is inflated, thus maintaining the pressure of the safe tank. If the ability to extract those gases is lost, then the ability to maintain safe pressure goes with it.
As Musk noted above, Starship SN8 is thankful – and suddenly – one or more burst discs were installed, referring to a single-use mechanical valve designed to open (ie burst) above a certain pressure. Were. The SN8’s Knoxon burst disc did just that, exploding to create an outlet to create pressure inside the rocket and thus preventing the small nose-based liquid oxygen (LX) tank from exploding.
Unfortunately, the ancestor of losing control of the starship is a much less positive story. According to Musk, igniting one of the Raptor engines, the SN8, could be a significant failure, melting one or more important engine parts. It is unclear how the correctly fitted engine failure developed into the total loss of Starship Hydraulics but it is safe to say that redundancy will be included and updated designs will be implemented to ensure that such failures do not recur. Occurs.
In particular, both the unofficial LabPadre and Nassaspasflight.com livestreams clearly showed the starship. Dripping molten metal For more than two minutes after a steady fire. Whatever the cause of that terrible fire, anything that can melt metal for consecutive minutes will almost certainly end the crash of the Starship SN8 and the Raptor engines will be installed in it. Not surprisingly, the SN8’s main LX tank wasn’t violated.
Finally, the SN8 will likely need extensive repairs – and one, two, or three replacement engines – before it can safely resume testing and cover its 15 kilometers (.59.5 million). The launch could move forward. In addition, SpaceX’s lack of valve control means that the company will have to wait at least 24+ hours before employees can safely return to the launch pad and begin inspections and repairs.
Update: The roadblock was removed around 11pm local time and the SpaceX workers had already returned to the pads, indicating that the Starship SN8 was completely closed and safe to reach. Inspection and repair will begin as soon as possible.