SpaceX's Starship SN8 roars to life ahead of debut launch

SpaceX's Starship SN8 roars to life ahead of debut launch

Featured Image Source:  @austinbarnard45 via Twitter

SpaceX's Starship SN8 (Serial Number 8) prototype roared to life last night during a Raptor engine static-fire test. This test is a routine pre-flight preparation meant to assess the three Raptor engines and all systems related to the propulsion system before a launch vehicle takes flight. SN8 is expected to become the first fully-assembled Starship prototype to perform a test flight. Engineers plan to launch Starship SN8 50,000 feet (15-kilometers) into Boca Chica Beach, Texas, sunny sky. Tuesday's static-fire test was the second one performed. Raptor engines are fueled by a combination of cryogenic methane and liquid oxygen. During the test, engineers fuel the vehicke to briefly ignite the Raptors as the stainless-steel Starship SN8 vehicle remained grounded to a test stand at the South Texas Launch Facility. Last night's engine ignition was different than the previous one; This time, SN8 featured a top nose cone section with an oxygen header tank. The vehicle's first static-firing only featured the bottom base and excluded a test of the header propellant tanks. On October 20, teams performed the first static-firing in which the Starship SN8's three Raptor engines where briefly ignited for the first time, utilizing fuel from the main propellant tank. Starship features two propellant tanks - a main one that holds most of the propellant and a 'header tank' that is a smaller tank that holds fuel reserves that can fuel the vehicle upon landing. A header tank for liquid oxygen is also located inside the vehicle's top nose cone section.

Boca Chica residents captured footage of Starship SN8's dramatic static-fire test, which tested the header tank propellant system. Last night, fire sparks lit up the night sky as SN8 roared to life, video below. The test appears to have been successful. The vehicle remains at the launchpad as teams continue preparing it for its debut launch. 


SpaceX's ultimate goal with Starship's development is to take humanity back to the moon and colonize Mars. Starship will be a 165-foot-tall (50 meters) spacecraft capable of carrying one hundred passengers and tons of cargo during long-duration voyages. Each Starship test vehicle at Boca Chica takes the company closer towards developing a space-ready spacecraft that could enable a spacefaring civilization one day. The spacecraft will also require a gigantic rocket booster called Super Heavy, which will propel Starship to orbit. The final version of Starship will utilize 6 Raptor engines and the Super Heavy rocket will feature around 28-30 Raptor engines

The upcoming Starship SN8 test flight will test a trio of Raptor engines in-flight for the first time. Previous prototypes were powered with a single Raptor and only flew 500 meters off the ground. SN8 will fly at a higher altitude and attempt a 'belly flop' maneuver in the sky to test out its aerodynamic flaps. If pre-flight preparations continue to go well we could see SN8 take flight before this year 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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