Starship to get 3 more vacuum engines for a total of 42, SpaceX upgrades OLM at Starbase, Raptor V3 attains new milestone

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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.

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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).

A photo of Starship 25 engines taken from underneath the spaceship. 3 sea-level and 3 vacuum engines are installed on the Starship 25 prototype.
A photo of Starship 25 engines taken from underneath the spaceship. 3 sea-level and 3 vacuum engines are installed on the Starship 25 prototype. Credit: SpaceX / Elon Musk / Twitter.
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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).

Elon Musk refers to Douglas Adams, the writer of The HItchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and the significance of the number 42 in the Universe and finding the meaning of life.

Starbase Orbital Launch Mount (OLM) Repairs and Upgrades

Video: NASASpaceFlight / YouTube provides an update on the Starbase OLM.
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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.

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.

The water deluge system steel plate getting transported to be installed under the Orbital Launch Mount (OLM) at Starbase, Texas.
Screenshot: The massive water deluge system steel plate getting transported by cranes to be installed under the Orbital Launch Mount (OLM) at Starbase, Texas. Credit: NASASpaceFlight.com / Chris Bergin (posted with permission). Watch the video above for details.

SpaceX is also upgrading the OLM by making modifications and improvements to overcome past mistakes. Hopefully, a crater 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.

Graph of the Raptor V3 engine reaching a chamber pressure of 350 bar that translates to a thrust of 269 tons (~590 million pounds of downward force).
Graph of the Raptor V3 engine reaching a chamber pressure of 350 bar that translates to a thrust of 269 tons (~590 million pounds of downward force). Credit: SpaceX / Elon Musk / Twitter.
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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.

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Iqtidar Ali
Iqtidar Alihttp://www.teslaoracle.com
Iqtidar has been writing about Tesla, Elon Musk, and EVs for more than 3 years on XAutoWorld.com, many of his articles have been republished on CleanTechnica and InsideEVs, maintains a healthy relationship with the Tesla community across the Social Media sphere. You can reach him on Twitter @IqtidarAlii

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