SpaceX begins to assemble the spacecraft prototype S20 and super heavy booster, expected to be tested in August

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Although the Boca Chica plant had components marked as “SN20” as early as March 2021, the development of SpaceX’s first interplanetary spacecraft that could enter Earth orbit clearly began in mid-June this year. The engineers assembled the first engine part with a bracket that can hold 6 Raptor engines.

SpaceX begins to assemble the spacecraft prototype S20 and super heavy booster, expected to be tested in August

SpaceX begins to assemble the spacecraft prototype S20 and super heavy booster, expected to be tested in August(1)

Illustration: S20 and No. 3 super heavy booster

However, according to SpaceX’s maximum As a common practice to increase the speed of interstellar spacecraft development, companies often manufacture interstellar spacecraft parts in batches before distributing them to any spacecraft prototypes, boosters, or storage tanks. In other words, there is always a certain degree of uncertainty before SpaceX actually begins to assemble multiple completed rocket components. But earlier this month SpaceX began assembling the Starship prototype S20, and the No. 4 super heavy booster may also be following up.

In mid-May of this year, SpaceX moved the spacecraft prototype SN16 to an open space, and did not start assembling the parts of the interplanetary spacecraft prototype until the first week of July. Prior to this, the company spent 7 months in crazy manufacturing and testing, and successively manufactured and tested SN8, SN9, SN10, SN11, SN15, and tested storage tanks SN7.2 and BN2.1. Just as SN15 became the first interstellar spacecraft prototype to successfully complete high-altitude test flights and land smoothly, it was reported that SpaceX is expected to complete the first orbital flight test with S20 and B3 in July this year.

It was reported on July 14 that “The rear flap and thrust part of the S20 began to be assembled earlier today. This leaves a bunch of parts to be assembled into a storage tank, and a bunch to be assembled into a nose. And four nose rings. The last pile of parts is used to assemble the nose cone and the hull.”

Finally, the orbital launch mission of booster 3 will also be transferred to assist 4 The pusher was completed, but the prototype starship S20 remained. The nearly two-month time interval between the start of assembly from SN16 to S20 is likely to be caused by major changes and upgrades in S20.

S20 has 3 Raptor engines operating in space, as well as 3 Raptor engines that are ignited in the earth’s atmosphere and used for spacecraft landing. In addition to the thrust structure that allows the 6 Raptor engines to operate, the S20 also needs a complete heat shield with thousands of insulation tiles; communications and avionics for orbital flight, and so on.

Currently, the S20 starship has completed about half of the assembly work. The last part of the spacecraft’s fuel storage tank is ready for installation, and the S20 nose cone components are also in the later stages of assembly. But SpaceX has not completely covered the spacecraft’s nose cone with insulation tiles, and it may take one or two attempts to complete this process correctly.

At the same time, the assembly work of booster 4 may have started on July 15. All in all, the first prototype of the orbital interstellar spacecraft and the super-heavy booster prototype will be fully assembled and ready for testing sometime in August this year. (Chenchen)