SpaceX’s Super Heavy Rocket with 33 Engines: A Breakthrough in Rocket Engineering
SpaceX is moving towards a major milestone in rocket engineering with the development of its Super Heavy Launch Vehicle- a rocket designed to accommodate thirty-three new Raptor V2 engines. The main purpose of these engines is to check if the structural integrity of the launch vehicle can survive and withstand the thrust of 33 engines.
Spacex has been working on the Starship prototype since August 2020 which now paves the way for a new milestone as the company moves towards an orbital launch attempt from South Texas later this year.
The Flight Tests of Starship Prototypes
Spacex completed a series of seven test flights of its Starship prototypes last year. The company gradually expanded the boundaries starting with two 150-meter jumps, before moving on to flights at an altitude of up to 12.5 kilometers to demonstrate the belly flop maneuver required during the return of the ship through the earth’s atmosphere. The flight test program ended with the successful soft landing of the starship after a 10-kilometer flight.
What’s next for SpaceX?
Since the Starship prototype has been pushed as far as possible, SpaceX had to complete the development of the Super Heavy launch system. The Super Heavy launch system will be the largest and most powerful rocket ever built, so work needs to be completed in several areas ranging from missiles to ground systems, paperwork, and the launch pads in Boca Chica.
Completing the Super Heavy was a monumental task in itself as it required 33 Raptor rocket engines. The company had work to do in terms of production to deploy such capabilities. Currently, SpaceX produces at least four Raptor rocket engines per week. Aerojet Rocketdyne, which is a former leader in engine manufacturing in the United States, has set a goal of producing four RS-25 rocket engines for NASA’s Space Launch System per year.
Spacex Founder Elon Musk
Elon Musk, the founder of Spacex, decided to delay the flight tests of the Super Heavy until the Raptor 2 engine is ready since the original Raptor rocket engine was too heavy and not productive enough. It produced 185 tons of thrust, but the Raptor 2 will have at least 230 tons. Ignoring spaxce’s unusual plans to install boosters on huge mechanical levers mounted on a tower that the size of a skyscraper, super heavy is just a large Liquid rocket booster with vertical launch and vertical landing.
There was a lot of effort spent on the design and construction of a massive launch and capture tower at the site in South Texas, standing at an altitude of more than 150 meters. It supports a fully stowed rocket during refuelling and launch. Then, a few minutes after launch, it will hook the first stage booster with massive chopsticks when the rocket slows down near the ground.
Finally, SpaceX had to significantly upgrade its ground support equipment at the Texas site to refuel the Super Heavy and Starships at the same time.
Finally, there was paperwork. Spacex’s initial environmental approval for the Texas site allowed for about a dozen launches per year of its small Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets. Since the Starship launch system was beyond the scope of this area, the company had to go back to the Federal Aviation Administration and get permission for more efficient launches. This marked the beginning of a multi-year process, and while it’s not yet complete, SpaceX made an important decision earlier this month when it received critical regulatory approval.
Receiving Critical Regulatory Approval
Now that SpaceX has received approval, it has the opportunity to conduct starship test flights from Texas. On Thursday, more evidence of progress emerged when SpaceX delivered a prototype of a Super Heavy Booster 7 rocket to the launch pad for the first time. It was raised with the help of chopsticks on the launch tower and installed on the launch mount.
SpaceX’s Super Heavy rocket is a breakthrough in rocket engineering and will push the boundaries of space exploration even further. As Elon Musk said in one of his tweets, the Starship Rocket, which is being developed at SpaceX’s star base in Boca Chica, will be ready to fly next month. SpaceX will have a second Starship package ready to fly in August, and after that, the company will conduct monthly rocket launches.
With SpaceX’s Super Heavy rocket and the Starship ready to fly, it seems that space exploration will soon experience unprecedented growth, and the possibilities are endless.