“November seems highly likely,” said the SpaceX CEO and Chief Engineer Elon Musk in a tweet responding to a follower about the 1st Starship orbital flight test.
Starship’s first orbital flight test has been getting delayed since last year mainly due to the spaceship failing in some tests, heat tiles falling off, and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) not giving approval to SpaceX.
The FAA finally approved Starship orbital flights from Starbase, Boca Chica, Texas only in June 2022. After this approval, Elon Musk predicted that the first orbital flight test would occur in July but SpaceX’s efforts didn’t come to fruition.
Scheduling Starship’s first orbital flight in November 2022 will give SpaceX ample time to ready 2 Starship prototypes and 2 Super Heavy rocket boosters by then.
Currently, 2 Super Heavy rocket boosters are actively being tested and worked on at Starbase — Booster 7 and Booster 8.
But Elon Musk also tweeted that while SpaceX is working on Booster 7 upgrades, it’s completing Booster 9 simultaneously which has several design changes from its predecessors.
Our focus is on reliability upgrades for flight on Booster 7 and completing Booster 9, which has many design changes, especially for full engine RUD isolation.Elon Musk via Twitter.
Musk did not explain what he means by “full RUD isolation”, it might mean that in an event of rapid unscheduled disassembly (RUD/explosion), the Super Heavy rocket booster and the engines will remain isolated from each other, minimizing the damage.
On 30th March 2021, SpaceX performed a high-altitude flight test on the Starship SN11 prototype, although the ship landed back, it experienced RUD after a few mins. RUD isolation might come in handy in these types of scenarios.
In the meanwhile, SpaceX shared the following aerial timelapse footage of Booster 7 getting transported back to the Starship factory for reliability and robustness upgrades after a successful static fire test.
SpaceX also performed an interesting test at Starbase, a water test on the Starbase orbital launch mount. This water deluge system was tested was conducted when the launch mount was empty.
A water deluge (flooding) system is installed on the orbital launch mount to suppress the fire and engine sound at the time of static fire tests and actual launches — let’s watch.
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