SpaceX has been hard at work in recent months, and the company has reached a new milestone recently as a prototype of the upcoming Starship spacecraft has passed a crucial test. Three previous prototypes have met their demise in the past during the same test.
The test took place at the SpaceX facility located in Boca Chica. A crane was used to place the Starship N4 prototype on a pad. Liquid nitrogen was then injected in the special tanks that were built specifically for the use of pressurized cryogenic fuel. The test was passed without problems, with Elon Musk announcing the success on a social media platform.
SpaceX Trials Their Starship Spacecraft
In November 2019, the bulkhead of the first Starship prototype was destroyed during a cryogenic pressurization trial, spreading debris across the test areas. SpaceX stated at that time that while such results aren’t desirable, they aren’t completely unexpected.
A similar event took place in February 2020 as the pressurized tank of the SN1 prototype failed during a cryogenic pressure test. In this case, the event was caused by a component related to the base of the fuel tanks. The Starship SN2 prototype was dismantled as SpaceX decided to run a pressure test using only the tanks, and the test was passed. Earlier this month, the SN3 failed another pressure test, but the failure was caused by an erroneous configuration.
It is estimated that SN4 will be ready for a test flight in the following week, as the company has already filled the necessary documentation. SpaceX employees will install a Raptor engine for the prototype soon, as a static fire test has been scheduled for next week. If the tests take place without a problem a trial flight will take the spacecraft to an altitude of 150 meters.
Other prototypes are already in development as SpaceX plans to test new components which might be used for the final version.