After a major hardware shuffle, SpaceX stopped at the bow cone for its first prototype starship at altitude and installed a pair of front flaps.
Effectively gaining the aerospace equivalent of a giant shell game, SpaceX has been developing and equipping several prototype Starship nosoconus over the past few months, apparently improving design and assembly with actual full-scale equipment. In the last two or so weeks, the company has abandoned at least two of these prototypes and appears to have officially abandoned one unfinished prototype.
More importantly, SpaceX has finally narrowed the bow cone for the first prototype starship at altitude.
Local resident and photographer Mary (BocaChicaGal) first noticed the signs of this choice on October 12, when a prototype with air caps installed appeared in a special tent production tent SpaceX. An integral prelude to the installation of mechanical surfaces (valves) Starship, SpaceX equipped the valves in less than 24 hours.
After the valve was installed, the bow cone was pumped into the adjacent windscreen, a small mounting compartment that had mostly not been used since the completion of the medium bay assembly ship. Currently, all indications are that in the near future the nasal cone will soon be stacked on top of a section of five steel rings. The two halves of the nose section will then be welded together, while any remaining plumbing and electrical work will be completed if it has not already been.
SpaceX has already partially tested this process with the nose and ring section, which could otherwise be completely abolished. Before moving the nose with the gates to the wind, SpaceX moved the older prototype – the first node of the nose, which reached full growth, to the Starships SN5 and SN6, the fate is unknown.
Having eliminated a serious anomaly during the inevitable static fire test campaign of the triple Raptor in Starship SN8, the first for both Starship and the engine family, the prototype is likely to become a new eyepiece. Elon Musk says the SpaceX will install the SN8 nose cone only after Starship passes one or more static fire tests with three Raptor engines. According to a slightly older tweet, SpaceX will perform static Starship SN8 fire, inspect the rocket and make another static fire before blurring it during the first 15 km (~ 10 miles) of the flight and parachute tests.
The first static fire of the triple Raptor in the SN8 could have occurred tonight during the test window from 21:00 to 6:00 or tomorrow between 8:00 and 16:30 CDT (UTC-5).
Check out Teslarati newsletters for a quick update, field perspectives and unique reviews of SpaceX rocket launch and recovery processes.