SpaceX’s vice president of build and flight reliability Bill Gerstenmaier participated at the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) SciTech Forum. He shared that SpaceX may soon ignite the Starship Super Heavy rocket’s methane-fueled Raptor V2 engines. –“If things go well, maybe next week we’ll have a 33-engine static fire,” he said on January 27. “We still have a lot of work in front of us to get there and it’s not easy.” Igniting the powerful engines simultaneously is one of the final tests before Super Heavy finally propels Starship to orbit, it is also one of the riskiest.
He adds that there is "still a lot of work" to do before attempting that long-anticipated static fire.— Jeff Foust (@jeff_foust) January 27, 2023
Space enthusiasts have been eagerly waiting to witness the orbital flight for over a year now and it looks like it will finally happen in 2023. Starbase engineers already performed a successful Wet Dress Rehearsal (WDR) of a fully-stacked Starship at the Boca Chica Beach launch pad on January 23. The pre-flight test allowed engineers to simulate all launch operations, including fully fueling the stainless-steel vehicle’s tanks with more than 10 million pounds of propellant. The rocket-ship is fueled by a combination of cryogenic liquid methane (CH4) and liquid oxygen (LOX), also referred to as ‘Methalox.’ The company has never ignited over 14 Raptor engines, testing all 33 Raptors at once is necessary to ensure the vehicle can withstand its own force and make sure that all engines are working well. During a static-fire test, engineers will ignite engines for only a few seconds while the vehicle remains grounded to the launch mount. SpaceX destacked the rocket-ship on January 25 to begin preparing for this vital test.
Today’s test will help verify a full launch countdown sequence, as well as the performance of Starship and the orbital pad for flight-like operations— SpaceX (@SpaceX) January 24, 2023
Launch and catch tower destacked Ship 24 from Booster 7 on the orbital pad today ahead of the Booster’s static fire test pic.twitter.com/JPcKh7fcvp— SpaceX (@SpaceX) January 26, 2023
SpaceX founder Elon Musk hopes to have Starship ready to perform the orbital flight by late-February or March. Tonight, he shared a photograph of the giant Super Heavy Booster 7 test vehicle that is undergoing preparations for the debut orbital flight attempt. –“Just leaving the engine bay of Starship,” shared Musk via Twitter (pictured below). Musk previously said they are proceeding very cautiously because the engines are capable of producing over 17 million pounds of thrust and they want to make sure not to damage the supporting ground structure at the launch pad if something goes wrong. The Starbase launch pad neighbors a U.S. Wildlife Refuge and a public beach access so the area is always evacuated ahead of every test. According to Cameron County’s Boca Chica Beach road closure announcements, engineers plan to perform some possible testing starting on February 3, 6, and 7. However, all dates are subject to change; engineers will only proceed if the vehicle is ready. You can check out the company’s operations at the Starbase launch pad 24/7 via LabPadre’s YouTube livestream, linked below.
Just leaving the engine bay of Starship pic.twitter.com/JTnFfNaymh— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 31, 2023
VIDEO: LABPADRE 24/7 STARBASE LIVESTREAM
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Featured Image Source: SpaceX founder Elon Musk via Twitter
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.