SpaceX conducts Starship SN9 Raptor ignition tests to prepare for upcoming flight

SpaceX conducts Starship SN9 Raptor ignition tests to prepare for upcoming flight

Featured Image Source: SPadre @SpacePadreIsle via Twitter

The founder of SpaceX Elon Musk envisions a fleet of 1,000 Starship vehicles embarking on a voyage to Mars before the year 2050. His aerospace company runs around-the-clock operations to work towards making life multiplanetary. Musk previously said that in order to develop the Starship spacecraft, teams at Boca Chica’s rocket factory will manufacture at least 20 Starship prototypes to test out before launching a space-ready Starship vehicle to orbit. A high test and iteration rate enables engineers to develop the spacecraft faster.

SpaceX continues to conduct preflight testing of the Starship SN9 prototype at the South Texas Launch Facility. The vehicle is expected to perform a high-altitude test flight above Boca Chica Beach, similar to its predecessor -SN8- which performed an incredible 12-kilometer flight test and the first-of-its-kind ‘belly flop’ maneuver controlled by aerodynamic fins. SN8 exploded upon descent due to loss of pressure, engineers aim to ace the landing during the upcoming SN9 flight.

UPDATE: Musk announced today's static-fire tests are complete.  


Today, Musk shared the Starship SN9 vehicle is undergoing Raptor ignition tests ahead of launch. –“Today at SpaceX is about practicing Starship engine starts. Ship is held down by massive pins while engines are fired. Two starts completed, about to try a third,” he announced via Twitter. This test is called ‘static-fire,’ the vehicle remains grounded as the engines are briefly ignited for a few seconds. This afternoon, SpaceX completed a couple of static-fire tests at the Boca Chica Beach launch site. Local spaceflight photographers captured video of the tests, shown below.




Starship SN9 features a trio of Raptors. The unique engines are fueled by cryogenic methane and liquid oxygen. SpaceX designed the Raptor with Mars’ environment in mind. Future Martians will be able to fuel Starship to return to Earth by extracting carbon dioxide from the Red Planet’s atmosphere and digging subsurface ice-water to synthesize methane through the Sabatier process and oxygen through electrolysis.


According to Cameron County beach closure announcements, the company scheduled to further test the Starship SN9 vehicle on Thursday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Central Time. Additional testing dates are scheduled at the same time for next week, Monday, January 18 through Wednesday, January 20. If preflight testing goes well, we could see Starship SN9 soar 12-kilometers into the sky before January ends. You can watch SpaceX operations Live 24/7 in the video below, courtesy of LabPadre via YouTube.



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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