SpaceX thrilled a brilliant Heavy booster on the launch pad today (Aug. 9) for the very first time ever, notching a large milestone in the development of its Starship deep-space transportation system.
The Super Heavy involved, a prototype referred to as Booster 7, is scheduled to launch on the Starship program’s first orbital test flight in the coming months. SpaceX is gearing up for that mission, as today’s engine test shows.
The test, which occurred today at SpaceX’s Starbase facility in South Texas, involved one among Super Heavy’s 33 Raptor engines, company representatives said via Twitter (opens in new tab). The engine lit up while Booster 7 remained anchored to the orbital launch mount, in a test referred to as a static fire.
The Starship system includes Super Heavy and a 165-foot-tall (50 meters) upper-stage spacecraft called Starship. Both elements are made to be fully reusable, and both will undoubtedly be powered by the next-generation Raptor, that is a lot more powerful compared to the Merlin engine that SpaceX uses using its Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets.
Starship upper-stage prototypes have launched before, on test flights that reached a maximum altitude of just 6.2 miles (10 kilometers) roughly. Those jaunts involved vehicles with three engines, 1 / 2 of what the ultimate Starship spacecraft will sport.
No Super Heavy vehicle has yet left the bottom, although upcoming orbital test flight changes that, if all goes in accordance with plan. On that mission, that will lift faraway from Starbase, Booster 7 will launch a six-engine Starship prototype called Ship 24 to orbit. Booster 7 will splash down in the Gulf coast of florida soon after liftoff, and Ship 24 will circle Earth once before decreasing in the Pacific Ocean close to the Hawaiian island of Kauai.
And Ship 24 got a good work out today, too: A couple of hours following the Booster 7 activity, SpaceX conducted a static fire with two of Ship 24’s six Raptors, the business announced via Twitter (opens in new tab).
Static fire test of two Raptor engines on Starship 24 pic.twitter.com/NNpViztphIAugust 10, 2022
SpaceX likely will perform many more testing before clearing Booster 7 and Ship 24 for that landmark launch. However, many of these prelaunch trials will undoubtedly be big events in themselves. The very first time that Booster 7 fires up all 33 of its Raptors, for instance, is a sight and an audio to behold. (For perspective: The Falcon 9 has just nine engines in its first stage, because the rocket’s name suggests.)
Though today marked Booster 7’s first static fire on the launch mount, it has breathed fire at Starbase before. On July 11, flames shot from the vehicle’s base after something went wrong during an “engine spin start test.”
Tuesday was an extremely busy day for SpaceX. On Tuesday night, the business launched 52 of its Starlink internet satellites to orbit with a Falcon 9, which lifted faraway from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The rocket’s first stage came down for a vertical landing at sea using one of SpaceX’s autonomous drone ships just a little significantly less than nine minutes after launch.
Editor’s note: This story was updated at 10: 12 p.m. EDT on Aug. 9 with news of Ship 24’s static fire, on the other hand at 10: 57 p.m. EDT with details and video from SpaceX and news of the Starlink launch.
Mike Wall may be the writer of “ON THE MARKET (opens in new tab)” (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book concerning the seek out alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall (opens in new tab). Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom (opens in new tab) or on Facebook (opens in new tab).
Michael Wall is really a Senior Space Writer withSpace.com (opens in new tab)and joined the team in 2010.He primarily covers exoplanets, spaceflight and military space, but has been recognized to dabble in the area art beat.His book concerning the seek out alien life, “ON THE MARKET,” was published on Nov. 13, 2018. Before learning to be a science writer, Michael worked as a herpetologist and wildlife biologist. He’s got a Ph.D. in evolutionary biology from the University of Sydney, Australia, a bachelor’s degree from the University of Arizona, and a graduate certificate in science writing from the University of California, Santa Cruz. To discover what his latest project is, it is possible to follow Michael on Twitter.