SpaceX achieved a new milestone on Friday, November 12, the company briefly ignited all of Starship's Raptor engines for the first time during a static-fire test at Starbase in South Texas. The stainless-steel SN20 spacecraft prototype is equipped with three vacuum-optimized Raptors (R-Vac) designed for propulsion in outer space and three sea-level Raptor engines designed for atmospheric flight. The difference between both engines is that R-Vac engines have a much larger nozzle compared to standard engines, the increased diameter improves efficiency in outer space environment. Raptors are a new kind of engine developed by SpaceX, fueled by cryogenic Methalox – a combination of subcooled liquid methane (CH4) propellant and liquid oxygen (LOX).
“Good static fire with all six engines!” SpaceX founder Elon Musk shared via Twitter today. It marks the first time both variations of the Raptor are tested simultaneously as the 160-foot-tall Starship remained grounded to the launch pad mount. Local residents livestreamed the static-firing, videos below. SpaceX Starbase teams ignited the shiny spacecraft’s engines at around 12:13 p.m. Central Time.
Good static fire with all six engines!— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 12, 2021
This is a significant test ahead of Starship SN20’s first orbital flight test. The company is conducting pre-flight testing to ensure the spacecraft is ready to fly. During the first orbital flight attempt, engineers plan to launch a prototype of the Super Heavy rocket for the first time, Booster 4, to propel Starship SN20 to orbit. The 230-foot-tall booster will also undergo similar testing with its 29 methane-fueled Raptor engines that will produce over 16 million pounds of thrust! SpaceX has never tested over 6 Raptor engines, so it will be interesting to watch the rocket’s upcoming test campaign.
If Super Heavy Booster 4’s testing goes well, it will lift off from the Boca Chica Beach launch pad to propel Starship SN20 to orbit. As SN20 continues its journey across Earth, Booster 4 will return with a propulsive soft water landing in the Gulf of Mexico. Starship SN20 will land in the ocean off the northwest coast of Kauai, Hawaii. The ambitious orbital test flight will enable SpaceX engineers to collect data to develop the launch system and improve concept of operations. The exact timeline for the debut orbital flight is still unknown because the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) must complete an environmental assessment of the Starbase launch site. The regulatory agency is in charge of ensuring safe air traffic and spaceflight operations. Meanwhile, you can watch SpaceX Starbase launch pad operations Live in the video below, courtesy of LabPadre via YouTube.
WATCH IT LIVE!
First 6-engine static fire test of Starship pic.twitter.com/Bq3uryxEnl— SpaceX (@SpaceX) November 12, 2021
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.