The brand new Raptor manufacturing facility is now rising out of the bottom at SpaceX’s Rocket Improvement and Check Facility in McGregor, Texas. Tasked with supplying Raptor 2 engines to the Starship Program, SpaceX is laying the foundations for its quickly reusable rocket.
With the Launch Tower within the means of gaining its “Mechazilla” stacking and catching arms – a key a part of recovering Tremendous Heavy and Starships, together with their engines – quite a few future autos are being staged on the Manufacturing Website forward of a busy 2022.
The instant focus is on Ship 20, with its Static Fireplace take a look at at the moment scheduled for this week.
Ship 20 and Booster four:
Following a profitable proof testing marketing campaign for Ship 20, the following milestone will likely be loading LOX (Liquid Oxygen) and CH4 (Liquid Methane) for a Static Fireplace take a look at.
The fantastic particulars of Ship 20’s testing haven’t been revealed, with this automobile being the primary to sport three Raptor Vacuum (RVac) engines. Up to now, RVacs have solely been fired up individually at McGregor.
The upcoming take a look at – at the moment set for No Earlier Than (NET) Wednesday and nonetheless topic to alter – will possible contain the three sea-level Raptors.
Ship 20’s full engine set includes RC69, RC73, and RC78, with RC standing for Raptor Heart. RV4, RV5, and RV6 are the RVacs assigned to Ship 20.
RVac set up was going down on Monday.
RVac being put in underneath Ship 20
— Nic Ansuini (@NicAnsuini) October 11, 2021
In the course of the preliminary Static Fireplace take a look at, one key take a look at goal will deal with the Thermal Protection System (TPS), which suffered a minor liberation brought on by the Header Tank venting. The vibrations of the engine’s firing will present further information factors on how effectively the TPS has been utilized and secured to the automobile.
Booster 4 is ready in line for its personal proof testing and Static Fires, though this isn’t prone to happen till November.
With its 29 engines, Booster four’s Static Fireplace marketing campaign will possible contain a number of ignitions with an growing variety of engines.
Progress in the direction of giving the Launch Tower its arms has been revamped current days, with the carriage system moved over to a brand new staging level on the Orbital Launch Website (OLS).
This set the scene for the raise and transfer of the primary “chopstick” arm for set up onto the carriage. The second arm was additionally moved over on Monday.
As soon as each arms are secured to the carriage, all the system will likely be hoisted onto the Tower. This occasion will set the stage for its first operation, prone to contain Booster four being lifted onto the mount.
Ought to the system require further work, the LR 11350 crane – nicknamed “Frankencrane” by SpaceX staff – might nonetheless be used.
Whereas Booster four and Ship 20’s return factors will likely be into the ocean, Elon Musk hopes for the primary catch to happen throughout Booster 5’s return to the launch web site.
Booster 5 is already being stacked contained in the Excessive Bay, following the same old Starbase path of getting the following automobile prepared to move to the launch web site quickly after the earlier has launched.
Its grid fins have already arrived and are being ready for set up. This course of passed off after the Booster accomplished stacking operations throughout Booster four’s Excessive Bay processing move.
Ship 21 is making good progress across the Manufacturing Space, with sections being ready for stacking, a course of that may happen contained in the since-vacated Mid Bay. The rollout of GSE-Eight to the Tank Farm has created room for Ship 21’s stacking to happen.
With quite a few sections sporting a full coat of TPS, the nosecone for Ship 21 is already following that very same path, with tiles being utilized inside one of many “Huge Tents.”
Sections for Ship 22 have additionally been noticed, with the Widespread Dome Part noticed inside Tent 1.
In the meantime, the Thrust Pucks for boosters down the pecking order have additionally been arriving into Starbase, together with the primary to host the expanded functionality of 33 Raptors.
— Chris Bergin – NSF (@NASASpaceflight) October 6, 2021
McGregor Manufacturing facility:
All these Raptor engines arrive at Starbase after having been processed at SpaceX’s McGregor test site.
Presently, the engines are assembled at SpaceX HQ in Hawthorne, California, earlier than taking a highway journey to Texas for hot-fire testing on certainly one of 5 obtainable take a look at stands.
Elon Musk had already famous that Raptor manufacturing would enhance, aided by a brand new manufacturing facility on the McGregor facility, permitting Hawthorne to deal with RVacs and new design evolutions for the Methalox powerhouse.
This enables McGregor to supply the primary inventory of Raptor 2 engines to cater for numerous Boosters and Starships, every requiring 36 Raptor 2s in whole, primarily based on the 33 on the Booster and three on the Starship (together with three RVacs).
With groundwork noticed by Gary Blair over recent weeks (via his plane passes for NSF/L2), the most recent cross famous the framework of the manufacturing facility is now being assembled.
Whereas this manufacturing facility will nonetheless be a while away from assembling Raptor 2s, Hawthorne is already constructing the streamlined model of the Raptor, with the McGregor take a look at stands being labored on in preparation for take a look at firings.
Centralizing Raptor manufacturing and testing at McGregor may also streamline the move of Raptors to Starbase, eradicating the California-to-Texas leg for all engines aside from the RVacs.
Additionally, this manufacturing enhance supplied an enchanting situation of what number of Raptors SpaceX would require in circulation, given the total reusability of the Starship system. A big inventory of Raptors factors to an enormous fleet of autos, as Musk has at all times envisioned.
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