Would you travel to Mars? The founder of SpaceX Elon Musk envisions building a fleet of hundreds of Starships to enable humanity to become a multi-planet species before the year 2050. Engineering teams at the SpaceX Starbase facility located at Boca Chica Beach, Texas, are working to develop a reusable launch system capable of transporting one hundred passengers or 100 tons of cargo to the Red Planet, millions of miles away from Earth. Musk hopes to achieve landing the first humans on Mars before 2026. SpaceX already has a contract with NASA to land astronauts on the Moon with a lunar-optimized Starship Human Landing System (HLS). SpaceX works around-the-clock in South Texas to make these ambitious goals a reality.
This week engineers continued pre-flight tests of the prototypes that will attempt the first-ever orbital flight test this year, Starship SN24 and Booster 7. SpaceX test-fired both vehicles' methane-fueled Raptor engines on the same day, August 9. First, Booster 7 underwent testing at the Starbase launch pad. The test comes just a few weeks after the booster underwent an explosion at the launch pad when engineers performed a "spin start test" of the rocket’s 33 Raptor V2 engines. Teams then transported Booster 7 back to the factory to remove the engines and repair the damage. After the incident, Musk said SpaceX would first test the outer ring of twenty engines. The booster was transported back to the launch tower with only 20 engines. On Tuesday, engineers performed a static-fire test of a single Raptor V2 as Booster 7 remained grounded to the launch pad. A single Raptor V2 can produce over 230 tons of thrust at full throttle. SpaceX shared a photo of the booster undergoing testing at the launch tower and NASASpaceflight captured footage of the engine roaring to life, linked below.
Team at Starbase completed a single Raptor engine static fire test of Super Heavy Booster 7 on the orbital launch pad pic.twitter.com/16R7eE985V— SpaceX (@SpaceX) August 9, 2022
A few hours later, SpaceX test-fired Starship SN24 at an adjacent launch mount. They also ignited a single methane-fueled Raptor V2 for a few seconds while the stainless-steel spacecraft remained grounded to the launch pad with hold-on clamps. The company shared a video of the brief test, shown below. These brief ignition tests enable engineers to collect data to assess engine performance; every engine will undergo similar testing before taking flight. SpaceX is still pending a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) spaceflight license to perform the orbital flight test, which is meant to provide SpaceX with flight data to speed up the Starship launch system's development. Musk hopes that all goes well during the first-ever orbital flight attempt, however, he realistically estimates that a fully-"successful orbital flight is probably between 1 and 12 months from now."
Static fire test of two Raptor engines on Starship 24 pic.twitter.com/NNpViztphI— SpaceX (@SpaceX) August 10, 2022
Featured Image Source: SpaceX