SpaceX CEO Elon Musk posted a new picture of the aft section of Starship 25 on Sunday. This photo was taken from under the Starship which shows 3 sea-level and 3 vacuum engines (for thrust in space).
The interesting thing was Elon Musk’s caption on this photo, “3 more engines for the meaning of life,” he tweeted.
The Orbital Launch Mount (OLM) at Starbase, Texas in preparation for the next Starship flight test. SpaceX also made several developments at Starbase since it performed a successful 6-engine static fire on Starship 25 test around 2 weeks ago.
42 Starship Engines for the Meaning of Life
As Elon Musk is on a mission to unravel the mysteries of the Universe, his company SpaceX is inching toward increasing the overall Starship engine count to 42.
Elon Musk has taken the number 42 as the meaning of life from the science fiction franchise The Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
Currently, the full stack Starship has 33 Raptor V2 engines on the Super Heavy rocket booster (1st stage) and 6 engines on the 2nd stage (the Starship spaceship itself).
Out of these 6 engines, 3 are sea-level engines to provide maximum thrust in the Earth’s atmosphere. The other 3 Raptor vacuum (RVac) engines are for maneuvering Starship in space (with wider bell exhausts as visible in the picture above).
In the Starship engine bay photo shared by Elon Musk above, we can see that there is definitely space for 3 more vacuum engines in this space.
The total current count of Raptors on a fully stacked Starship is 39 engines. With the addition of 3 RVacs, it will rise to 42. However, Elon Musk did not give a timeline for when this upgrade will be live on a Starship prototype.
Talking about the meaning of life and understanding the Universe, Musk created a new company xAI in the Artificial Intelligence domain recently. Since xAI was born on 12th July 2023, Elon Musk decoded the date to 42 as well (12 + 7 + 23 = 42).
Starbase Orbital Launch Mount (OLM) Repairs and Upgrades
The Starbase Orbital Launch Mount (OLM) was partially damaged as a result of the Super Heavy rocket booster thrust during the 1st Starship launch attempt back in May.
SpaceX started repairing and rebuilding the OLM soon after the Starship’s 1st orbital flight test.
Since the concrete floor under the OLM endured a hole in the ground due to the Raptor engine flames and thrust. This also damaged the OLM deluge system. SpaceX has now placed the steel plate under the OLM floor needed for the launch pad deluge system plumbing.
SpaceX is also upgrading the OLM by making modifications and improvements to overcome past mistakes. Hopefully, a crater in under the Starship launch pad will not be formed like the last time.
Raptor V3 Reaches New Milestone
SpaceX tested a Raptor V3 engine at its rocket engine development site in McGregor, Texas on 12h May 2023.
Elon Musk revealed that the 3rd generation of its Starship Raptor engines has reached a new thrust milestone in one of his tweets the following day.
“Raptor V3 just achieved 350 bar chamber pressure (269 tons of thrust),” Musk stated in a tweet. “Starship Super Heavy Booster has 33 Raptors, so total thrust of 8877 tons or 19.5 million pounds,” he added.
Elon Musk also shared the following graph of this test on Twitter. Interestingly, this testing event was filmed by the NASASpaceFlight.com team at the SpaceX facility in McGregor, Texas.
Talking about the extreme chamber pressure attained during the Raptor V3 testing Elon Musk said, “To be frank, we did not expect the engine to survive a full-duration run at that pressure”. “It is uncharted territory,” he added.
“Raptor chamber wall might have the highest heat flux of anything ever made,” Elon Musk further added information in a follow-up tweet.
- Starship, OLM, and Mechazilla get thousands of upgrades in preparation for the 2nd orbital flight test, FAA holds approval, Starbase updates
- Starbase update: SpaceX conducts 2nd static fire test on Booster 9, Starship factory expands, Mid Bay demolished, more
- Starship Booster 9 static fire served as a test bed for the new OLM water deluge system
- SpaceX tests the massive new Starship OLM water deluge system at full scale, Booster 9 propellant load test, Starbase updates
- SpaceX lifts Booster 9 onto the orbital launch pad ahead of tests, expands the Starship factory, more from Starbase, Texas
- Starship to get 3 more vacuum engines for a total of 42, SpaceX upgrades OLM at Starbase, Raptor V3 attains new milestone
- SpaceX performs a 6-engine static fire test on Starship 25 as it gets ready for the next orbital launch
- SpaceX starts rebuilding the Orbital Launch Mount at Starbase in preparation for the next Starship launch