SpaceX tests heat shields that will stop its Starship from burning up

Elon Musk shows off fiery SpaceX Starship heatshield test

San Francisco: After successfully launching its first commercial crew capsule, Crew Dragon, to the International Space Station (ISS), Elon Musk-owned SpaceX has completed heatshield tests for its much-awaited Starship rocket. If all goes according to plan, it will gently lift off on short "hops" that don't go as high as space, but high enough to test out systems and components.

Aside from marking a major symbolic milestone for the company's next-generation rocket development program, the installation of a functional rocket engine on the first partial-fidelity vehicle prototype means that SpaceX can now enter into a new and critical stage of development: integrated flight testing. The heat shield tiles will have microscopic pores on the outside that allow water or methane to ooze out and cool the exterior.

On Sunday, Elon Musk posted a video of a Starship heat shield test, which was captioned with, "Testing Starship heat shield hex tiles".

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In the test, the heat shields elevated the temperatures up to 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit at the white-hot regions, which could withstand orbital re-entry heat, according to Musk. 1,375 degrees Celsius). He suggested this could withstand the extreme temperatures associated with returning to Earth, but it is slightly lower than the temperatures NASA's Space Shuttles were built to withstand (approx.

When asked where the vehicle known as Starship and Super Heavy would launch from, Musk said both Texas and Florida would host liftoff and assembly operations. The engine was mounted on a prototype spacecraft know under the nickname of Starhopper.

It's relatively rare but not unusual for planned Falcon 9 or Heavy static fire tests to end during the WDR phase in cases where the launch team observes data that appears to be less than nominal. The Starship may eventually be able to carry 100 people and 150 tons of cargo at a time on its journey to Mars. The first full test flight is targeted for no earlier than 2020.

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