The major part of the rocket, without which it can not fly, are the engines. Yes, without these specially built booster or raptor engines, the Starship also cannot fly. The main reason why the first flight of Starship exploded is the engine failures.
Out of 33 raptor engines, only 30 managed to start and give a thrust to the spacecraft, but soon, second after second, engines started to lose energy and ultimately shut down. Spacecraft was unable to separate from the booster and upper stage and thus exploded.
The company, in this case, decided to find out the issues with the raptor engines and they found that they needed to upgrade the engines from hydraulic control to electric control for a better upward thrust along with other upgrades. Basically, raptor engines are built by SpaceX for the SpaceX’s Starship.
The Super Heavy Booster and the Starship Spaceship are completely redesigned and are ready to enter the earth’s orbit and carry out various missions with their much powerful raptor and raptor vacuum engines. Starship was mainly designed to send SpaceX’s Starlink satellites to the earth’s orbit and do moon and Mars research, but now it features more with working for NASA’s Artemis program as well.
NASA has recently declared that they are waiting to see the next launch of the vehicle as the raptor engine tests just blew their minds up. The Raptor rocket engine is notable for being the first of its kind to actually power a vehicle and the third rocket engine in history to utilise a full-flow staged combustion cycle.
The Raptor engine utilises subcooled liquid methane and subcooled liquid oxygen as propellants in a full-flow staged combustion cycle, which is a departure from the current Merlin engines’ simpler “open-cycle” gas generator system and LOX or kerosene propellants.
This new design offers increased efficiency by effectively utilising all of the fuel without any wastage in powering its turbo pumps. The engine incorporates an oxygen turbopump to utilise all the available oxygen and a methane turbopump to utilise all the available fuel.
Prior to entering the combustion chamber, both the oxidizer and fuel streams are thoroughly mixed in the gas phase. This approach optimises the combustion process and allows for more efficient utilisation of the propellants, ultimately enhancing the engine’s overall performance.
For the Raptor engines, whether during launch or in-flight, engine ignition was accomplished using dual-redundant spark-plug lit torch igniters. This design eliminated the requirement for a separate igniter fluid, which was necessary for the Merlin engines.
However, a modification was introduced for the Raptor 2 engines, where the traditional lit torches were replaced by a confidential ignition method. This new method is reputed to be less intricate, lighter in weight, more cost-effective, and enhanced in terms of reliability. While the torch igniters were discontinued for the main ignition, they are still employed in the oxygen and power heads of the engine.
This advancement in the ignition system streamlines the engine’s startup process, reducing complexity and weight while improving affordability and dependability. The specific details of the secret ignition method remain undisclosed, as they are proprietary information. To Elon Musk’s amazement, Starship’s several Raptor engines successfully completed its most recent test.
The last thing Musk needs is for things to go wrong as he works to make human life “multi-planetary” and send a million people to Mars by 2050 utilising Starship. However, the balance definitely tipped in Musk’s favour as all 33 of the Starship Raptor’s engines were able to pass the most recent test with flying colours.
Musk revealed in a tweet that the Starship’s Raptor engines generated 269 tonnes of thrust at a 350 bar chamber pressure. “Congratulations to the SpaceX propulsion team!” he tweeted. 33 Raptors are present on the Starship Super Heavy Boost, giving it a total thrust of 19.5 million pounds or 8877 tonnes.
Musk expressed surprise at the engine’s capacity to endure the high pressure, recognising it as uncharted territory. To be completely honest, we did not anticipate the engine to endure a full duration run at such pressure, he stated.The wall of the raptor chamber may have the highest heat flux of any object ever created.
This is a crucial milestone since SpaceX’s Starship, which consists of the spacecraft and the Super Heavy rocket, wants to develop a fully reusable transportation system for personnel and cargo missions to Mars, the Moon, and Earth’s orbit. The upper stage of the Starship has been fitted with a total of 6 engines, out of which three are raptor engines and the other three are raptor vacuum engines.
As compared to its lower booster, the Super Heavy booster experiences a vast power of 33 raptor engines in all. According to SpaceX, the Raptor engine, which is a reusable methane-oxygen staged-combustion engine as mentioned before, has double the thrust of the Falcon 9 Merlin engine.
After researching more about the upgrades in the booster engines, we found that instead of using the old design of hydraulic thrust vector controls, SpaceX assembled the new technology of electric thrust vector controls in the Super Heavy Booster 9. By this change, the rocket can gain more energy and obtain more thrust to move ahead towards its path.
This is because the electric trust controls are more powerful than the old hydraulic ones. Electric thrusters can provide more energy to the raptor engines by acquiring solar energy in space, thus resulting in better propulsion. SpaceX is developing more and more raptor engines at a high production rate so that they will always be ready to change them if any problem occurs.
As of now, only these upgrades have been done and just by these changes, the raptor engines have passed all of their basic tests. It’s now only the time left for the rocket to fly up in the sky after the permission granted from the FAA. What do you guys think of the newly built raptor engines?
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