SpaceX President and Chief Operating Officer Gwynne Shotwell participated at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Commercial Space Transportation Conference on Wednesday, February 8. Ms. Shotwell said that SpaceX may attempt Starship’s long-awaited 33 Raptor engine static-fire test as soon as Thursday, February 9. “Tomorrow is a big day for SpaceX. We are going to attempt a 33-engine static fire booster test for Starship,” she said. “It’s really the final ground test that we can do before we light ‘em up and go.” This would be the final major technical pre-flight test before the company finally performs the rocket-ship's debut orbital flight test. “That first flight test is going to be really exciting. It’s going to happen in the next month or so,” she shared at the conference.
The Super Heavy Booster 7 test vehicle is undergoing preparations at the Starbase, Texas, launch pad. According to Cameron County Boca Chica Beach road closure announcements, engineers plan to perform some testing sometime between 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. Central Time (CT). If for any reason the test is not completed, there is a backup road closure scheduled for Friday, February 10 from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. CT [all dates are subject to change]. The public beach access must be closed to ensure public safety. The entire Boca Chica village is always evacuated before major testing and only SpaceX employees remain in the area. LabPadre set up a camera in front of the Starbase launch site that Livestreams 24/7 via YouTube where you can watch SpaceX’s upcoming static-fire test as it happens, the video is linked below.
A 33-Raptor ignition is risky because each methane-fueled engine generates over 200 tons of powerful force. SpaceX founder Elon Musk said a couple months ago that they were proceeding very carefully with this static-fire test to minimize the potential of causing damage to the launch tower infrastructure. The most Raptor V2 engines they have ignited simultaneously is 14. Engineers have experienced a minimum explosion when they worked with engines before. If the upcoming Booster 7 static-fire goes smoothly, SpaceX will be closer than ever to launching Starship to orbit. Musk recently said that the flight attempt could potentially be in March. The company is still pending a spaceflight license from the FAA.
Ms. Shotwell said that SpaceX is working to get Starship to orbit as soon as possible. The company has not test flown a Starship for over a year now. “We will go for a test flight and we will learn from the test flight and we will do more test flights. [...] The real goal is to not blow up the launch pad. That is success,” she said. During the orbital flight, Super Heavy Booster 7 will propel Starship SN24 to orbit from Texas and end the orbital flight with an ocean landing along the coast of Kauai, Hawaii. It is guaranteed to be exciting!
WATCH IT LIVE: LabPadre 24/7 Starbase Launch Site Livestream
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Featured Image Source: SpaceX
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.