Although the self-destruction system was triggered, causing the super-heavy booster to explode, Musk’s second test flight of the starship can be considered a success.
Starship, take off!
At about 9 o’clock last night, the countdown to the second test flight of the SpaceX starship was gradually approaching. The super-heavy booster lit up 33 Raptor engines, making a deafening roar at the launch site, and the starship soared into the sky.
The onlookers cheered and waited eagerly with their heads raised.
52 seconds after liftoff, the starship successfully passed the “Max Q” moment. At this moment, the mechanical stress on the starship’s hull reaches its peak, which is the most dangerous moment when the rocket ascends.
Two minutes and 39 seconds after liftoff, the second-stage booster “MECO (most engines shut down)”. At 2 minutes and 41 seconds, thermal separation was completed, the starship’s six Raptor engines were ignited, and separated from the booster.
Starship launches test flight from Starbase in Boca Chica, Texas, breaking the sound barrier
So far, the entire test flight process has gone according to plan, and several key links have been passed safely. Everything seems to be going smoothly.
But the accident still happened.
Originally, according to SpaceX’s plan, the Super Heavy booster was supposed to land in the ocean, but it lost contact over the Gulf of Mexico and eventually exploded into a fireball.
However, the most critical spacecraft is still moving smoothly, flying into space at a faster speed.
But in the end, it also self-destructed in the air after running out of fuel, and could not be recovered as planned.
In a sense, Starship’s second test flight was a success.
Because the launch pad was not damaged during this launch, the starship and the booster rocket also successfully completed thermal separation.
Overall, apart from the failure of the booster and spacecraft to be recovered completely as planned, there were almost no other surprises in the process of this launch and test flight.
Compared with the first test flight, this time the progress has been very great.
SapceX official tweet congratulates Starship on its second successful test flight!
During the first test flight in April this year, the starship exploded less than four minutes after takeoff. In comparison, during the second launch, the entire system appeared to be very stable.
The self-destruct system is triggered and the second level data is lost?
However, a few minutes after the starship completed thermal separation, while hundreds of millions of netizens were excitedly watching the live broadcast, news suddenly came: SpaceX stated that it could no longer receive data from the second-stage booster.
This means that the spacecraft will most likely not be able to re-enter the atmosphere.
SpaceX confirmed in a subsequent live broadcast that the Starship’s “flight termination” system had been triggered.
The “termination of flight” system is a standard safety feature on rockets that automatically destroys the vehicle if something goes wrong or veers off course.
SN10’s “flight termination” system
Shortly afterwards, SpaceX ended the live broadcast.
According to SpaceX chief integration engineer John Insprucker, SpaceX lost signals and data from the second-stage thruster after separation.
They believe the second-stage thruster’s automatic “flight termination” system appeared to have been triggered late in the landing.
SpaceX quality engineering manager Kate Tice said in a webcast that although it was true that both the second-stage booster and the starship suffered “rapid and unexpected disintegration,” today’s test flight was still very successful.
Musk also retweeted the SpaceX team to congratulate him.
If the starship can successfully complete the flight, the real simulation path is as follows:
According to the plan, after the “Starship” reaches space, it will fly half a circle around the earth, then re-enter the atmosphere and land near the coast of Kauai, Hawaii.
Judging from SpaceX’s live broadcast, Starship seems to have been detonated at an altitude of about 148 kilometers. This altitude is slightly less than half the height at which the International Space Station flies around Earth.
Starship’s first flight test provided numerous lessons learned that directly led to multiple upgrades to the vehicle and ground infrastructure to increase the likelihood of future flight success.
The second flight test will debut the thermal stage separation system and new electronic thrust for the Super Heavy Raptor engine.
Starship design iteration and improvement
First test flight experience
This time, SpaceX fully learned the lessons of the first test flight.
During the first flight, a fire broke out in the engine compartment of Booster 7 due to the accumulation of methane, which was caused by a propellant leak in the tail of the aircraft.
The fire caused melted wires and the flight computer began losing control of most of the booster engines.
In order to reduce engine fires and loss of control of the aircraft, SpaceX upgraded the engine cleaning system and added air supply tanks and vents to expel gases from the aircraft.
The second upgrade is the flight termination system on both aircraft. SpaceX added heavier explosives and moved them to more effective locations to terminate the flight.
Another exciting improvement is the introduction of thermal staging to this flight.
In this case, the spacecraft would ignite its engines and separate from the booster with some of its engines still running.
This will increase the payload capacity of the spacecraft and simplify the separation system.
Launch Pad Changes
A major failure during the first test flight was that when the engine was accelerated to full power, a large crater was melted out of the orbital launch pad.
Later, greater destruction occurred.
At liftoff, Booster 7 uses only 30 engines and operates at 90% throttle, which results in its thrust-to-weight ratio (TWR) being slightly above 1.
This slowed the spacecraft’s initial ascent and made the stack longer than SpaceX predicted.
Preparing for the second test flight
To prevent a similar situation from happening again, SpaceX has been working on a dehydration system before the first flight.
However, Musk said shortly after the first flight that the system would not be ready in time for the first flight.
After the first launch, SpaceX quickly began repairing the damaged launch pad and preparing to redo the foundation of the entire launch pad.
First the reinforced concrete piles in and around the launch pad were reinforced.
Subsequently, SpaceX dug a hole several meters deep in the ground under the orbital launch pad and laid a large amount of steel bars as a new foundation.
After the foundation was poured, SpaceX laid steel bars for the pile caps on top, and then welded embedded parts on top.
Once installed, these embedded parts are welded with dewatering plates.
Preparing for the second test flight
After everything was completed and the concrete was poured, SpaceX installed waterproof flame deflectors, which greatly enhanced the sturdiness of the launch pad.
The water pressure in this system is so high that it will hopefully protect the steel panels from the Raptor’s exhaust. In this way, the “rock tornado” that occurred in the last launch can be avoided.
Due to the upgrade of the launch pad, and Musk also stated that he would modify the launch sequence, the lift-off time of the engine was shortened from 6 seconds to 3 seconds.
SpaceX expects the damage to the launch pad to be far less than what happened on the first test flight.
We see that SpaceX has indeed succeeded in doing so.
The world’s most powerful starship, launched in one piece
It can be said that Musk’s “Starship” is the largest and most powerful super-heavy rocket in human history. Just looking at the picture is enough to see its grandeur.
According to the official introduction, the starship is reusable, with the goal of transporting crew and cargo to Earth orbit to help people go to the moon, Mars, and beyond.
So far, the SpaceX team has completed multiple suborbital flight tests of the upper levels of the starship at Starbase, demonstrating unprecedented control.
Tests have proven that a starship can prepare for landing at subsonic speeds, then reignite its engines and flip to a vertical orientation.
In addition, the team also conducted multiple tests of the super-heavy rocket, including static ignition.
The team also built the world’s tallest rocket launch and reception tower, which is 146 meters high.
At 394 feet (about 120 meters) tall, Starship is the tallest rocket ever built by SpaceX and is nearly 90 feet (about 27 meters) taller than the Statue of Liberty.
The “Starship” consists of two parts. One is a super-heavy booster called “Super Heavy”, which is 70 meters high and has 33 Raptor engines to power the first-stage booster.
The other is the “Starship” spacecraft, which is 50 meters high and equipped with 6 “Raptor” engines and can carry cargo and personnel.
Starship is more powerful than NASA’s SLS rocket, with nearly twice the thrust, and is reusable.
Starships use methane as the main fuel, which is cheaper and easier to process than the traditionally used hydrogen.
In addition, the most important point is that there is a trace amount of methane in the atmosphere of Mars, which will facilitate future starships to carry out Mars missions.
The design principle of Starship Super Heavy is the same as that of Falcon-9 rocket. Thirty-three Raptor engines power the first-stage booster, capable of producing 16 million pounds of thrust at full speed.
It can lift 150 tons of cargo for extraterrestrial travel, far more than the Saturn V that carried Apollo astronauts to the moon.
At the same time, Starship will also be fully reusable, and the Super Heavy booster will land like SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket.
Musk has said that this will ensure that when the spacecraft goes to the moon or Mars, the rocket returns to land for refurbishment for another flight.
Step by step until now
SpaceX’s plans to develop a heavy-lift launch vehicle can be traced back to 2005.
By 2012, a methane-oxygen engine was being developed, and the plan was unveiled for the first time in 2016.
Starship development plans generally follow an iterative and incremental approach, involving frequent prototype building, testing and refinement, including low-altitude and high-altitude flight tests and more.
In other words, more than ten years have passed since the idea was first floated to the two test flights this year.
In November 2005, before SpaceX launched its first rocket, Falcon 1, Musk first mentioned the concept of a heavy-lift rocket called BFR. A 100-ton rocket can be launched into low Earth orbit.
In July 2010, one year after the last launch of Falcon 1, SpaceX announced plans to continue to develop heavy-lift launch vehicles based on the Falcon rocket, including various types of super-heavy launch vehicles.
Around 2015, Musk is expected to develop a Mars colonization transport aircraft, a rocket used for Mars colonization.
On September 26, 2016, the Raptor engine ignited for the first time. A few days later, Musk announced a proposed interplanetary transportation system launch vehicle using Raptor engines. The two-stage tanks are made of carbon composite materials and are used to store liquid methane and liquid oxygen.
In September 2017, at the 68th International Astronautical Congress, Musk proposed a revised plan for an interstellar transportation system called the Big Falcon Rocket (BFR). The BFR will also be fully reusable but reduced in size, with a low Earth orbit capacity of 150 tons (330,000 pounds).
Variants of the BFR could put satellites into orbit, resupply the International Space Station, land on the moon, and send humans to Mars. In April 2018, the mayor of Los Angeles confirmed plans to build a BFR rocket production facility at the Port of Los Angeles.
There are already 24 “seniors” who have sacrificed their lives before.
The Starship has previously conducted several tests, allowing it to fly to an altitude of about 6 miles and then return to Earth. SN8, SN9, and SN10 all failed to send, and accidents such as crashes and explosions occurred one after another.
In March 21, the SN11 prototype was blown to pieces.
In 2021, SN15 finally landed successfully. SpaceX noted in a statement on its website that SN15 features “structural, avionics and software improvements” compared to previous Starship prototypes.
Some netizens said, RIP, Starship 25, thank you for your sacrifices for the greater good of mankind.
Article Source:The original title of Xinzhiyuan’s article is “Second launch of Musk’s starship!” The self-destruct system was triggered, the overweight booster exploded, and contact was lost for about 10 minutes.
Risk warning and disclaimer
Market risk, the investment need to be cautious. This article does not constitute personal investment advice, nor does it take into account the special investment objectives, financial situation or needs of individual users. Users should consider whether any opinions, views or conclusions contained in this article are appropriate to their particular circumstances. Invest accordingly and do so at your own risk.