SpaceX has reached a significant milestone in its pursuit of space exploration as it conducted a successful "Wet dress rehearsal" (WDR) of its Starship prototype at the Starbase site in South Texas. During this test on October 24, the company filled the Starship vehicle with cryogenic fuel, totaling more than 10 million pounds of propellant. The test aimed to identify any potential leaks or issues before the second-ever flight of Starship.
In a statement posted on X, SpaceX shared video footage of the test and expressed the readiness of the vehicle for its upcoming second test flight, which is still pending regulatory approval. Starship, along with its first-stage booster, Super Heavy, utilizes SpaceX's powerful Raptor V2 engines, which rely on liquid methane and liquid oxygen as fuel.
Starship and Super Heavy were loaded with more than 10 million pounds of propellant today in a flight-like rehearsal ahead of launch pic.twitter.com/VbBTdR5h9p— SpaceX (@SpaceX) October 25, 2023
However, the pending approval mentioned in SpaceX's statement pertains to a launch license from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which has not yet been granted for the upcoming flight. Around six weeks ago, the FAA concluded its investigation into the first fully-stacked Starship flight, which encountered issues shortly after liftoff and ended with a controlled detonation over the Gulf of Mexico. FAA officials clarified that the closure of the investigation did not immediately signify a resumption of Starship launches. SpaceX is required to implement corrective actions affecting public safety and comply with environmental and regulatory requirements, seeking a license modification before proceeding with the next launch. SpaceX founder Elon Musk recently stated that all necessary corrective actions have been taken, emphasizing the company's readiness for the second test flight. SpaceX is committed to an active development process and frequent prototype flights, reflecting its strategy for rapid iteration and innovation in space exploration.
Last week, on October 20, Bill Gerstenmaier, the SpaceX vice president of build and flight reliability, participated at a U.S. Senate Commerce Committee's space subcommittee hearing where he expressed the company's urgency for obtaining a spaceflight license from the FAA to speed up Starship's development. Read more in the previous TESMANIAN story: SpaceX Representative speaks to U.S. Senate to Urge FAA to Expedite Starship Launch License Amidst Delays
The Starship is a groundbreaking spacecraft, recognized as the largest and most powerful rocket ever built. It is designed with full reusability in mind, setting the stage for transformative advancements in spaceflight. SpaceX envisions Starship as the key to unlocking various ambitious exploration missions, including returning NASA Astronauts to the Moon and the possibility of human settlement on Mars.
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Featured Images 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.