DR. SKY BLOG

SpaceX’s Starship SN8 likely will add to 2020 missions success

Dec 2, 2020, 2:00 PM
A motorcyclist rides off in his Harley Davidson Saturday, Jan. 12, 2019, across from SpaceX prototy...
A motorcyclist rides off in his Harley Davidson Saturday, Jan. 12, 2019, across from SpaceX prototype Starship hopper at Boca Chica Beach, Texas. (AP Photo via Brownsville Herald)
(AP Photo via Brownsville Herald)

This has been a great year for Space X and the year is not over yet!

With regular launches of Starlink satellites and the amazing Crew Dragon space vehicles, SpaceX is set for a suborbital flight of the Starship spaceship in the near future.

All this activity is now centered on the Boca Chica launch facility in southern Texas.

The Starship spacecraft will be the main vehicle which will take future space travelers to the moon and Mars and other destinations in the solar system.

Up to now, the majority of SpaceX missions have used the reliable Merlin engines, which produce amazing thrust using cryogenic liquid oxygen and rocket-grade kerosene (RP-1) as its main propellants.

These have been a part of the Falcon series of rocket boosters.

The new spacecraft is a unique vehicle, 165 feet in length and 29 feet wide and powered by the next-generation Raptor engines. The engine uses a combination of liquid methane and liquid oxygen, which can produce 500,000 pounds of thrust.

These were tested in the smaller Starhopper prototype in July 2019.

Here is a view of the Raptor engine.

The completed Starship will have three Raptor engines producing 1.5 million pounds of thrust.

There have been a number of designs for the Starship over the past few years and here is what all the versions look like.

The next phase of the Starship evolution is to perform a suborbital flight of the SN8 article and launch to an altitude of some 50,000 feet, turn around and then make a soft landing back at the launch site.

This is a very complicated launch and may only have a 1 in 3 chance of performing, at best.

When all the fine details of launching to space have been worked out, the Starship will then be boosted to orbit on the yet-to-be-completed super heavy booster.

The super heavy booster is officially known as the BN1 and will be equipped with 28 of the powerful Raptor engines. This will offer at least two times the thrust of the great Saturn 5 rocket, which launched the Apollo missions to the moon.

Here is an example of the size of the super heavy booster.

The production of the first super heavy booster is now under construction.

Here is a great graphic of the details of the Starship SN8 launch sequence and a step-by-step journey into this amazing technology.

And a final video to help explain all of this historic mission:

We wish SpaceX great success and “ad astra” (Latin for “to the stars”).

To print your own monthly star chart, click here.

To view satellites/dates/times of passage, click here.

Listen to the Dr. Sky Show on KTAR News 92.3 FM every Saturday at 3 a.m.

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SpaceX’s Starship SN8 likely will add to 2020 missions success