SpaceX is closer to launching Starship to orbit after it test-fired the Super Heavy rocket's powerful Raptor engines on Thursday, February 9. The massive stainless-steel Booster 7 vehicle briefly roared to life at around 3:13 p.m. CT. during a static-fire test meant to assess the Raptor V2 engines performance. SpaceX founder Elon Musk shared they ignited 31 out of 33 Raptor engines as the rocket remained grounded at the Starbase, Texas, launch pad. –“Team turned off 1 engine just before start & 1 stopped itself, so 31 engines fired overall. But still enough engines to reach orbit!” he announced via Twitter soon after the test was complete. This test is one of the final major milestones engineers had to complete successfully before performing the long-awaited debut orbital flight test. It is the first time they ignite 31 Raptor V2 engines simultaneously. Super Heavy is destined to become the world’s most powerful operational rocket when it takes flight.
Team turned off 1 engine just before start & 1 stopped itself, so 31 engines fired overall.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 9, 2023
But still enough engines to reach orbit! https://t.co/QYx3oVM4Gw
Booster 7 is designed to propel Starship SN24 to orbit with 33 Raptor engines capable of generating over 17 million pounds of thrust at full throttle. The company’s plan is to fly Starship around the globe at a max altitude of 100 kilometers (which is where space begins), and perform an ocean landing along the coast of Kauai, Hawaii, near a U.S. military base. Timing for this test flight attempt is uncertain, it could take place sometime in March. SpaceX is still pending a spaceflight license from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). SpaceX shared an amazing drone video of the 31-engine static-fire test at Starbase, linked below.
One day, Starship will take us to Mars https://t.co/oMrnBIiBjY— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 9, 2023
“One day, Starship will take us to Mars,” said Musk. Raptor V2 engines are fueled by cryogenic liquid methane (CH4) and liquid oxygen (LOX), unlike other rockets in the aerospace industry which are fueled by RP-1 kerosene and LOX. SpaceX designed Starship’s one-of-a-kind Raptor engine with planet Mars in mind. Musk envisions a future where Starship can be fueled on the Red Planet via In-situ resource utilization (ISRU). The first Mars colonizers would be able to synthesize CH4 and LOX through the Sabatier process and electrolysis – which involves extracting carbon dioxide (CO2) from the planet’s thin atmosphere and digging subsurface ice-water to create propellant to fuel the spacecraft’s return to Earth. A fully-reusable Starship and ISRU is necessary to make life multiplanetary. Every test engineers perform at Starbase brings the company closer to its ultimate goal of sending the first astronauts to Mars. SpaceX already has a contract to land NASA Artemis astronauts on the Moon with a lunar-optimized Starship Human Landing System (HLS) by 2025.
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Featured Image Source: SpaceX Live Broadcast
About the Author
Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo
Evelyn J. Arevalo joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover news as a Space Journalist and SpaceX Starbase Texas Correspondent. Evelyn is specialized in rocketry and space exploration. The main topics she covers are SpaceX and NASA.