SpaceX Engineers will test Starship SN9’s newly installed Raptor engines

SpaceX Engineers will test Starship SN9’s newly installed Raptor engines

Featured Image Source: @austinbarnard45 via Twitter

SpaceX continues to prepare the shiny stainless-steel Starship SN9 vehicle at the South Texas Launch Facility. Last week, engineers performed Raptor ignition tests of the SN9 vehicle to ensure the methane-fueled engines work optimally ahead of a flight test. However, they encountered some issues with two out of the three Raptor engines during a trio of static-fire tests performed on January 13th. SpaceX founder and Chief Engineer Elon Musk said “Two of the engines need slight repairs, so will be switched out,” he wrote via Twitter after the brief ignition tests. A previous Starship prototype that had an engine swap underwent an engine changing process for around twenty-six days, Musk said that SpaceX would work on “making major improvements to ease of engine swap. Needs to be a few hours at most,” he stated last Thursday.



SpaceX teams worked rapidly to resolve the issue and switched the engines in less than a week! Starship SN9 now has a set of newly installed Raptor engines that will be tested at the sandy launch pad. Boca Chica Village residents received an ‘Alert’ letter stating SpaceX plans to perform ‘spaceflight operations’ this week. Cameron County Boca Chica Beach closure announcements state SpaceX plans to perform major tests on the Starship SN9 prototype starting tomorrow, Tuesday, January 19, during a test window starting at 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Central Time; a backup test date is also scheduled for Wednesday, January 20, at the same time. The upcoming test is expected to be a static-fire of the newly installed Raptor engines. During the static-fire test, engineers will fuel Starship SN9 with cryogenic methane and liquid oxygen propellants and briefly ignite the engines as the vehicle remains grounded to the launch stand.

Source: Federal Aviation Administration

If the engine ignition tests go smoothly, SpaceX has authority from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to launch Starship SN9 on a high-altitude test flight this week. According to a NOTAM notice, which is a document published to alert pilots not to fly in a particular area, SpaceX could potentially fly Starship SN9 NET (No Earlier Than) Wednesday (pictured above). SN9 is expected to mimic its predecessor's flight path, SN8 liftoff approximately 12.5-kilometers above Boca Chica Beach and performed the ‘first-of-its-kind controlled aerodynamic descent and landing flip maneuver.’ You can watch SpaceX operations leading to launch day Live 24/7 in the video below, courtesy of LabPadre via YouTube. [All dates are subject to change.]



About the Author

Evelyn Arevalo

Evelyn 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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