On July 25, U.S. local time, hurricane Hannah landed only dozens of kilometers north of SpaceX facility, with wind speed of 145 kilometers per hour. However, it is gratifying that neither SpaceXs factories nor starship prototypes have been greatly affected, and the hurricane rapidly evolved into a less threatening tropical storm eight hours after landing.
Photo: SpaceXs SpaceX spaceship factory in Texas and its prototype SN5 successfully withstood the hurricane test
However, these facilities are still facing the threat of heavy rain, gusts, low visibility, and the resurgence of hurricanes. SpaceX, which originally planned to hold the first wet dress rehearsal (WDR) of the Starship prototype SN5 and the static ignition test of the Raptor engine, which was scheduled to be held on July 25, have been delayed for two weeks.
With weather, rockets, launchers and other conditions permitting, SpaceX may finally have the opportunity to conduct static ignition tests on the SN5 Raptor sn27 engine, which was installed more than three weeks ago. So far, tropical storm Hannah has continued to weaken as it moves westward in southern Texas and Mexico.
For SpaceX, testing starships in extreme weather conditions can actually be significant, as the company may eventually need to increase the launch frequency of overweight rockets and starships, which will require them to have all-weather launch capabilities.
However, for early prototypes such as the SN5, testing during a big storm can do more harm than good because it can confuse key data and observations needed for future testing and improving new prototypes. Now, SpaceX plans to conduct WDR and static ignition tests on SN5 on July 27, U.S. local time. Although there may still be rainfall on that day, the hurricane threat will be eliminated.
Due to the recent changes in plans, the test of the Starship SN5 has become unpredictable, but if the static ignition test of the rocket is successful and the weather is good, SpaceX may attempt the first flight test of the SN5 in a few days. Prior to the hurricane, SpaceX was preparing for a quick static ignition test and 150 meter flight test of the SN5.
At the same time, SpaceX and its contractors are building a huge new assembly building (VAB, also known as the High Bay) to assemble the soon to be built ultra heavy rocket booster prototype. The assembly of the Starship SN8 is also well under way. This is an upgraded prototype, which may be the first prototype to integrate fairing, aerodynamic control surfaces, full-featured headertank (internal container for landing propellant) and three Raptor engines. These facilities and hardware also survived the hurricane. (small)
Source: Wang Fengzhi, editor in charge of Netease science and Technology Report_ NT2541