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NASA officials say the next starship test flight will demonstrate the key technology of "aerial refueling": the spacecraft transmits cryogenic propellant in the air.

2024-04-25 Update From: SLTechnology News&Howtos shulou NAV: SLTechnology News&Howtos > IT Information >


Shulou( Report-- news on December 7, according to foreign media CNBC reports, the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (hereinafter referred to as NASA) recently claimed that Musk's SpaceX company may have an important demonstration in the third test flight of its "starship" rocket.

An official from NASA revealed earlier this week that the next test flight of the starship will demonstrate a "key technology": how the spacecraft transports cryogenic propellant in the air. However, a spokesman for the same organization later pointed out that in the aerospace industry, there are often things that "the plan can't keep up with the change."

Since the starship needs to use most of the propellant already loaded on the rocket to reach orbit around Earth, SpaceX needs to replenish it with more cryogenic propellant to transport cargo to other planetary bodies.

It is reported that the replenishment process of cryogenic propellant is compared to the "refueling" process of fighter planes. The "starship tanker" sends more propellant into orbit and transfers the propellant to the main starship rocket.

According to NASA, the goal of the test is to promote cryogenic fluid transfer and filling level measurement through technical risk assessment, design and prototype testing, as well as in-orbit demonstrations. At the same time, the demonstration will reduce the key risk of large-scale propellant transfer before future manned space missions.

The demonstration of propellant transmission is part of a contract awarded to SpaceX by NASA in 2020, valued at $53.2 million ( Note: currently about RMB 381 million). NASA wants SpaceX to develop and test "cryogenic fluid management" technology, which the former believes is crucial for future missions to the moon and even Mars.

Under NASA's contract, SpaceX's first demonstration will transfer 10 tons of liquid oxygen between two tanks in the rocket. Although the starship will not dock with another carrier rocket in this demonstration, NASA believes the test will promote the maturity of the technology.

Lockheed Martin and the United launch Alliance have reportedly signed similar contracts with NASA for different amounts.

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