SpaceX continues Super Heavy Booster 7 testing at Boca Chica Village

SpaceX continues Super Heavy Booster 7 testing at Boca Chica Village

Featured Image Source: Courtesy of @SPadre via Twitter.

SpaceX is rapidly developing its next-generation launch system designed to revolutionize space travel. SpaceX founder Elon Musk aims to design a fully-reusable Starship, capable of transporting tons of cargo to and from Mars. This ambitious endeavor has never been achieved in the aerospace industry. Building a fully-reusable launch system is the "holy grail" of rocket technology, says Musk. Reusability is crucial to decrease the cost of spaceflight enough to actually be able to send thousands of humans to the Red Planet, as well as megatons of cargo for survival on the rough Martian environment. 

SpaceX feels ready to launch the first Starship to orbit at the sandy beach at Boca Chica Village located at the southernmost tip of Texas, along the border with Mexico. This week, SpaceX is putting its gigantic Super Heavy Booster 7 rocket prototype to the test at the Starbase launch site. Booster 7 is the first that will be used to propel a Starship prototype to orbit. The 230-foot-tall Booster 7 was transported to the launch pad on May 6 after engineers repaired an internal propellant tank structure that got damaged during the first test campaign last month. 

This week, engineers resumed the booster’s test campaign and completed a pair of cryogenic proof tests on May 10 and May 11. The tests gather data about the stainless-steel rocket's structural integrity by filling it up with liquid nitrogen to simulate the pressure of propellant. The pressure test(s) allows engineers to assess if the stainless-steel vehicle is strong enough to withstand the stress of spaceflight; It also serves to check if there are any leaks in the propellant tanks and overall structure. Local space enthusiasts, Spadre and NASAspaceflight, shared photographs and short videos of the cryogenic proof tests, shown below. Testing is expected to continue throughout the month. 


Super Heavy Booster 7 is undergoing pre-flight testing to propel prototype Starship SN24 to orbit this year. Super Heavy Booster 7 will be equipped with 33 Raptors, when it lifts off it will produce over 12 million pounds of thrust! Once operational, Starship will become the world’s most powerful rocket right next to NASA’s Saturn V that launched astronauts to the Moon. The company has never launched a rocket with that many engines, so it will be exciting to watch the next phase of development. SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell said they plan to perform Starship's debut orbital flight test as soon as this Summer, pending regulatory approval. The Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) ongoing environmental assessment of the Starbase facility is expected to be completed by May 31st.   

When SpaceX receives FAA approval, it will be able to apply for a spaceflight license. It is unknown whether SpaceX has changed its orbital flight plan since it first submitted plans with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in 2021 to communicate with a spacecraft as it lifts off from Texas and splashes down in Hawaii. "The Starship Orbital test flight will originate from Starbase, TX. The Booster stage will separate approximately 170 seconds into flight. The Booster will then perform a partial return and land in the Gulf of Mexico approximately 20 miles from the shore,” SpaceX wrote to the FCC in the 2021 filing document, “The Orbital Starship will continue on flying between the Florida Straits. It will achieve orbit until performing a powered, targeted landing approximately 100km (~62 miles) off the northwest coast of Kauai [Hawaii] in a soft ocean landing.”

Featured Image Source: Courtesy of @SPadre via Twitter.

About the Author

Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo

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.

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