The next flight of SpaceX can take place faster than expected: passed the tests of the new rocket motor
The founder and CEO of SpaceX aerospace corporation, Elon Musk, said that in early February 2019, the Raptor rocket engine had been launched experimentally at full capacity. Based on the plans of the corporation, the “flaming engine” will be used on the Starship spacecraft to explore the Moon and Mars.
By itself, the spaceship consists of two main stages. One of them is actually Starship, i.e. manned spacecraft. The lower part is BFR rocket (Big F * cking Rocket) with a new engine.
The outer shell of the rocket is made of stainless steel. It was planned originally to use carbon fiber, but Elon Musk was against it. On his instructions, SpaceX engineers created a double skin treated specially with gases (including at extremely low temperatures).
BFR missile does not have the internal containment shell to protect against cosmic radiation. This is due to calculations showed that radiation exposure is dangerous only during space travel taking place for more than six months (or staying at orbital stations). Some amount of liquid methane is poured between two layers of stainless steel. This is an element of the cooling system: during braking, the gas evaporates partially preventing the starship from heating up too much.
Flight of SpaceX: Improvements and Innovations
The first stage of the “big Elon Musk rocket” will land on the tail. The second one, the bottom of the manned starship, will land in a way previously unknown to the space industry (and this, in particular, includes the genius of Elon Musk). Starship will slow down maximally the hull in the layers of the atmosphere, dropping “belly-down”. Thus, during landing, a part of fuel will be saved, which is necessary when landing on the tail. Stainless steel plating will heat to the temperature 800-900 degrees Celsius and will not lose strength.
Engine Raptor, fully tested in early February 2019, also carries a number of innovations. Liquid methane is poured into the compartments as fuel. Up to this point in the aerospace industry kerosene, hydrogen and solid fuels were used. Liquid methane is denser: this is why the rocket is smaller than that of NASA.
The second distinctive feature of engine Raptor is the pressure in the combustion chamber, reaching up to 250 atmospheres, which is an absolute record in comparison with 200 in Roscosmos.