SpaceX is testing technology to strengthen the launch pad to withstand the enormous power of Starship rocket boosters liftoff.
SpaceX tests a prototype of the launcher’s shield. (Video: SpaceX)
The launch pad is located at the Starbase of SpaceX in south Texas, badly damaged during the first test flight of the Starship vehicle, the most powerful rocket ever built, on April 20. The enormous power of the 33 Rotor engines on Starship’s first floor created a large crater beneath the launch pad, sending shattered concrete blocks flying away in the dust. A day after the flight test, billionaire SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk said the company was looking at ways to prevent or minimize that damage with a large, water-cooled steel shield under the launch pole.
The above effort started 3 months ago. The barrier system was not ready in time for the April 20 launch, but SpaceX performed the test anyway because it believed the concrete layer at the base of the Starship could withstand a single launch. However, the reality is not so. Since then, the company has accelerated the completion of the steel shield. Recently, SpaceX tested a prototype shield against the power of a Raptor engine. In the 20-second video shared by the company on May 19, when the steam clears at the end of the clip, the shield appears intact.
Spaceship launch pad
The launch pad at Starbase was badly damaged during the Starship vehicle’s first test flight.
SpaceX is developing Starship to transport astronauts to the Moon and Mars. NASA also selected the vehicle as the first lander to bring people to the Moon as part of the Ortemis program. The April 20 test flight aimed to launch the Starship’s upper stage around Earth and land in the Pacific Ocean near Hawaii. However, the process did not go smoothly. The two floors of the vehicle are not separated as expected. SpaceX sent a command to the prototype to self-destruct in mid-air over the Gulf of Mexico minutes after liftoff.
SpaceX is building several spacecraft at its Starbase facility and plans to launch the next version soon. Recently, Musk said the Starship’s next flight could take place within the next two months if the armor system is ready and the US Federal Aviation Administration clears the mission.
Article source: VnExpress
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