Elon Musk released a video of the latest test of SpaceX’s Starship heatshield technology on Twitter today, this time showing off the SpaceX Starship’s heatshield hex tiles.
Elon Musk Shows Off Starship Heat Shield Hex Tiles in Action
Testing Starship heatshield hex tiles pic.twitter.com/PycE9VthxQ— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 17, 2019
The latest video released by Elon Musk showcasing Starship’s latest technology shows off the stainless steal hex tiles that will make up one part of the vessel’s heat shield.
Elon Musk answered several Twitter users’ questions, revealing more about the state of Starship’s development.
No straight path for hot gas to accelerate through the gaps— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 17, 2019
Transpiration cooling will be added wherever we see erosion of the shield. Starship needs to be ready to fly again immediately after landing. Zero refurbishment.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 17, 2019
Transpirational cooling is a new approach that Musk and SpaceX are taking to managing the heat generated by re-entry. While not an old technology, transpirational cooling is similar to the way animals sweat to cool themselves off and was considered by NASA during the early space program, but ultimately abandoned.
Musk and SpaceX hope that using transpirational cooling can provide a regenerative heat shield technology that won't need to be replaced after every re-entry the way the US Space Shuttle's ceramic tile based heat shields had to be completely replaced after every mission.
White-hot parts reached orbital entry temp of around 1650 Kelvin— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 17, 2019
Temperatures of 1650 degrees Kelvin (~2,500 degrees Fahrenheit, ~1,375 degrees Celsius) are just under what the US Space Shuttle was build to withstand, around 1775 degrees Kelvin (~2730 degrees Fahrenheit, ~1500 degrees Celsius).
Yes, full duration— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 17, 2019