SpaceX Starship SN20 has successfully completed the cryogenic pressure-proof test in the 2nd phase of testing. Some heat shield tiles fell off Starship 20 during the 1st attempt of the cryo test. But SpaceX seems to have overcome this issue this time and everything seems fine with the tiles.
The tanks of Ship 20 were filled with cryogenic liquid Nitrogen (LN2) to near spaceflight pressure levels. And hydraulic rams simulated the Raptor engine thrust to complete the test. SN20 passed these tests with flying colors.
The cryo-test (cryogenic pressure test) ensures if a spaceship is able to withstand in-flight atmospheric pressures and extremely low temperatures. This is achieved by simulating the in-flight conditions by filling the Starship with liquid nitrogen that has a temperature of −196 °C [−320 °F].SpaceX moves Starship SN20 to the suborbital launch pad B at Starbase
After passing the proofing test, SpaceX will now re-install Raptor engines on Starship SN20 for a static fire test in the next phase.
SN15 was the last Starship prototype to go through the cryogenic pressure-proof testing followed by the static fire tests. But there was a two weeks gap between both tests as some Raptor engines needed repair and replacement before getting fully ready for the static fire test and a successful flight and landing later on.
The same amount of delay can happen with the SN20 prototype as the Raptor engines go through an extensive evaluation process. Since SpaceX aims for an orbital flight test with Starship 20, the stakes are much higher compared to the SN15 10km high-altitude test.
Meanwhile, SpaceX is also busy with several other projects at Starbase. Such as the new integration towers, the Starship quick disconnect arm, and the chopsticks that will attempt to catch the Super Heavy rocket booster upon landing.
In the video above, we can witness that the SpaceX engineering team is constantly working on the chopsticks. Although Elon Musk has said there is no guarantee that these will catch Super Heavy but the excitement in this whole gig is surely guaranteed — like many other SpaceX enthusiasts, I agree with Musk here.
SpaceX has moved the Booster 4 Super Heavy prototype rocket away from the Starbase orbital launch mount last Sunday (26th Sep 2021). Starship SN20 was stacked on Booster 4 for the first and only time last month. Most probably, the next full stacking of both these giant structures will be close to the orbital flight test later this year.