SpaceX SN4 Prototype Ready for Pressure Tests

SpaceX teams have assembled Starship SN4 in about 2 weeks and it is on the test stand. SpaceX is actively building the next Starship, SN5.

There will be pressure tests that caused problems for the last two prototypes. If the pressure tests are successful then there will be a 150-meter test and then a higher altitude test.

SOURCES- Elon Musk, SpaceX, Tesmanian, Lab Padre, NASA Space Flight
Written By Brian Wang,

14 thoughts on “SpaceX SN4 Prototype Ready for Pressure Tests”

  1. I think you are right, they do need to get it up and running fairly promptly. Or they could run out of money. If Starlink is able to start generating income quickly that will help quite a bit.

    I don’t think the failures so far are anything to be concerned about. SpaceX is just doing things differently than most groups that develop spacecraft do. In addition to using an “iterative design” process they are also developing a production line at the same time they are developing a product.

  2. If I may be so bold as to try to interpret:
    The private sector takes more risks than the public sector, but this is OK providing you have both.
    We need more public financed space programs.
    I don’t like rich people.

  3. SpaceX is launching hardware. NASA is not. Make fun of the private sector all you want. I’ll cheer for anyone who can get to LEO. Today that list doesn’t include the public program… May they get their act together soon.

  4. I don’t think it has even once simply collapsed under the weight. They’ve seen cryogenic weld failures, and a pressure management issue that caused an implosion, but simple weight hasn’t been an issue.

  5. They have same similar problem repeating almost through every iteration.
    Hope they can solve that problem – “error” permanently.

  6. So far the prototypes seem to have suffered fairly minor failures that have set off a cascade leading to total lose of the vehicle.
    Would it not be a good idea to provide external supports, maybe using the crane lift points, so that the vehicle cannot simply collapse under its own weight or that of test liquids?
    There will still be damage but at least SpaceX wont have to start again from scratch. Even damage that means the vehicle can never fly still leaves the prospect of testing of undamaged sections.

    Just a thought.

  7. Maybe not Challenger specifically, but some kind of disaster was in the offing. The engineers argued for postponement because the launch would be outside the established safe parameters. Management overrode them.

    Testing could have, in that specific instance, given the engineers a bigger voice, but it wouldn’t change the fact that the NASA management were willing to take unknown chances with astronauts’ lives.

    Look at the Discovery ‘accident’: They knew, KNEW, that the shuttle had been damaged. They were fully aware that it was possible that the shuttle would burn up on reentry. Engineers were telling them that the damage HAD to be inspected. Nasa management didn’t just fail to inspect. They actively prevented inspection.

    Reportedly, because if excessive damage had been proven, they might have been forced to do something about it!

    In essence it was the exact same scenario as Challenger: Nasa management blowing off safety concerns from the technical side of the agency.

  8. There are lots of tests to run. Better to get over one hurdle, and onto the next. I don’t think the implosion stuff is relevant. That was not what they were trying to test. Implosion is impossible in space. It is the atmosphere that does the crushing.
    You want your tests to test what they are designed to test. Surprising results are fine as long as you are testing what you intend. This is not a submersible or meant to stand up to hurricane winds on the ground without being tethered.
    This is fun:

  9. You want them to test to destruction, sure, but ideally that destruction should occur far outside anticipated operating conditions. And you can’t do flight tests if you test every test article to destruction before it gets to fly.

    Remember, they’re staking the survival of the company on Starship. They’ve got to get it up and running fairly promptly.

  10. Am I wrong to hope this one fails too?

    Not for my amusement, but under the theory that the more failures in testing the more potential problems that will be resolved in the end product. Less of a chance of an engineering or structural failure occurring during a flight.

    I want every possible flaw wrinkle worked out. I want every piece stressed to failure. I want SpaceX to push this thing to failure over and over again, and make it a craft that rivals jets in passenger miles and safety.

  11. This one looks very nice. No big dings or crazy looking welds. Wish them a great test.
    Hmm. There are a few crazy bits…still hope for a good test.

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