The starship is blackened, the stainless steel rocket is armored


After two days of tossing, the combination of Starship Musk S20 and Super Heavy B4 has finally come together. The rocket's gold medal broke the world record held by the Saturn 5 for half a century. After that, the S20 was dismantled and sent back to the assembly plant.

The starship is blackened, the stainless steel rocket is armored

Was the starship "blackened"?

And in the last two days everyone must also have discovered a major change in the Starship S20, meaning it is no longer the original color of shiny stainless steel, but "blackened", with black paint on the surface of the thermal insulation tiles in the form of a honeycomb is like putting a shield and armor on a "starship", which finally looks a bit sci-fi. Some enthusiasts have counted the number of thermal insulation tiles in each part of the Starship S20 to be around 15,500 in total.

The starship is blackened, the stainless steel rocket is armored

This network user is really idle

While it's not as sleek as the editor's bathroom floor tiles, it's undeniably high tech, and that also proves one thing. Musk once boasted that the Starship did not need thermal insulation tiles for re-entry, and could only withstand high temperatures by relying on a stainless steel body and "sweating technology." Looking at it now, the "sweat technology" is unreliable, and the stainless steel body is also unreliable, especially those TIG joints that cannot be quenched at high temperature, so the most conservative solution was previously proposed.

The starship is blackened, the stainless steel rocket is armored

Mask's original "sweat plan" is really showing off

This type of insulation tile is actually somewhat similar to the one used on the US Space Shuttle and X37B. It is said to be a TUFROC composite construction with enhanced strength and oxidation protection. Very long English name called Toughened Uni-piece. Fibre-reinforced, oxidation-resistant composite. The outer black part is a carbon fiber reinforced cap which is high temperature resistant and will not break as it is fiber reinforced.

The starship is blackened, the stainless steel rocket is armored

But still broken

Laying Starship Insulation Tiles is a bit like our trim and furniture, which requires a layer of "foam glue" on the inside. Of course, Starship's "styrofoam" is silica felt airgel, that is, capillary filaments, it can play the role of keeping warm to some extent. More importantly, when it encounters a heat source, such as high temperature re-entry, it becomes very viscous, adheres to steel sheet and thermal insulation tiles, and is very durable. However, the test at low altitude has no heat source and may fall.

The starship is blackened, the stainless steel rocket is armored

It's like making foam furniture

The starship is blackened, the stainless steel rocket is armored

Bottom layer of silica airgel

If it does fall, the Starship's stainless steel hull will play its part. Its heat dissipation and heat resistance are actually quite good. As long as it doesn't touch the solder joints, the heat generated by a small amount of thermal insulation tiles can be dissipated when dropped, so the risk is low, unlike Space Shuttle Columbia. In addition, insulating tiles are made from small pieces, so to reduce the risk of falling, it is better to break off a small piece than a large one.

Small pieces are better than big ones

Of course, in addition to the silica airgel for gluing the starship thermal insulation tiles, fixed buckles are also welded to the outer wall of the boom, with which the thermal insulation tiles are fixed to further enhance safety. In addition, for the most critical part of the rudder, specially made heat-insulating tiles of different sexes are used, which are distinguished by their special thickness and ensure a tight fit of the seams after installation, like scales. the explosion of the Columbia shuttle, that is, the heat-resistant tiles at the end of the wing were broken, damaged and burned, which is not at all sloppy.

In addition to airgel, there are also fixed buckles

It's much faster than running with an arrow

In fact, this is not the first time Starship has been fitted with insulating tiles. Since the first half of last year, Starship has been testing this black honeycomb thermal insulation tile. At the beginning, there were only two or three thermal insulation tiles. Fully tested, the results are not bad.

SN17 with hole also fastened with insulation boards

However, this time the stingy habit of Musk and SpaceX showed up again: it is clear that only one side of the "starship" is sheathed with heat-insulating tiles, while the other side is still a stainless steel case. It's not a bug, but because the "starship" orbits when it re-enters the atmosphere, only one side faces the air, so only that side needs to be attached, and the other side is "saved" in cost.

The other side is still a stainless steel case

Spaceship recovery slides like this, so only stick to one side

However, only one side of the "starship" is attached with thermal insulation tiles. Will the weight of the two sides of the "starship" be unequal, causing it to tilt during takeoff? In fact, this kind of center of gravity can be corrected by the engine vector, and although about 15,500 thermal tiles are heavy, they are still very light compared to the weight of the C20 and B4 fuel, and the body of the rocket can actually be displaced when it is launched.

The starship's vector engine is enough to figure it out

Of course, in this final assembly exercise, some special parts of the Starship were not attached to the insulation boards. It's connected withthe fact that these specially shaped insulating boards need to be customized, and now this is only 98% of the entire project. completed. In addition, the first stage of the "starship", that is, the "super-heavy" propulsion part, will also be equipped with a protective casing so that the flame does not return and does not burn through the engine pipeline during launch, but this is not the main thing. the same as the heat-insulating tiles of the second stage. I don't know.

Insulation tiles are very thick

This seems rough

Difficult to glue at the junction of the wing and body

Some people also say why Starship's insulation tiles are black. Doesn't black absorb heat better? In fact, this is the true nature of carbon fiber, and when the "starship" re-enters the atmosphere, the heat is generated by friction with the air, and the reflection of white energy is meaningless here.

I'm not selling the same carpet as the spaceship insulation tile

Okay, this time the S20 and B4 are only going through final assembly. After they return to the workshop, they will disassemble the engine and carry out leak tests accordingly. Trial by fire. If everything is in order, it's time to "fit" them again and get ready for the real test at the track level. Based on the speed of SpaceX's "forced labor", it is expected to officially launch later this month and early next month, but this first orbital launch is destined to become "irretrievable" and will not recover.