SpaceX is getting closer to launching a Starship to space! The company continues to prepare the Starship SN24 and Super Heavy Booster 7 prototypes for the debut flight, which is planned to originate from Boca Chica Beach, Texas, and end with an ocean landing along the northwest coast of Kauai, Hawaii. The ambitious orbital flight would allow engineers to test the concept of operations for the Starship launch system and collect technical data about the rocket-ship to speed up its development.
SpaceX has performed multiple pre-flight tests of both stainless-steel vehicles in the past year to ensure it can withstand the pressures of the upcoming spaceflight. Today, November 14, SpaceX performed a full-duration static-fire test of 14 Super Heavy rocket engines for the first time. Only 14 Raptor V2 engines out of 33 were ignited, marking the first time SpaceX ignites 14 engines simultaneously. Before this test, they test-ignited only 7. The Raptor V2 engines are fueled with a combination of cryogenic liquid methane (LCH4) and liquid oxygen (LOX), sometimes referred to as 'Methalox'. LabPadre and NASASpaceflight captured stunning photos and videos of the boosters engines roaring to life, shown below. Each Raptor 2.0 rocket engine produces over half a million pounds (around 230 tons) of force.
Full test duration of 14 engines— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 14, 2022
Super Heavy's 33 powerful Raptor V2 engines combined will be capable of producing over 12 million pounds of thrust. SpaceX has never ignited all engines simultaneously; We can expect that to happen soon before the gigantic rocket propels Starship SN24 to orbit. Booster 7's 14-engine test comes after SpaceX founder Elon Musk appointed SpaceX President and Chief Operating Officer Gwynne Shotwell as lead to oversee Starship development at Starbase this week, which suggests that Musk will spend a few more weeks at Twitter's headquarters in San Francisco, California, after he acquired the social media platform. Read More: SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell Will Oversee Starship Development Operations In Texas
There's no specific date set for the fully-stacked Starship/Super Heavy debut orbital flight. If testing continues to go smoothly, the flight could potentially happen in December before 2022 comes to an end. Starship SN24 is expected to be re-stacked atop Booster 7 in the coming weeks. –"Next big test is probably full stack wet dress rehearsal, then 33 engine firing in a few weeks," said Musk in October. Meanwhile, engineers continue to build a fleet of shiny stainless-steel Starships at the Starbase factory, each will undergo the same testing until SpaceX achieves developing the final iteration of the launch system that will return NASA astronauts to the Moon and take the first humans to Mars. SpaceX aims to have a Starship ready for crewed flights by 2024 to launch NASA astronauts and commercial passenger flights. You can watch SpaceX’s Starship development operations at Starbase via LabPadre's 24/7 livestream on YouTube, video linked below.
VIDEO: LABPADRE STARBASE LAUNCH PAD LIVE 24/7
Featured Image Source: LabPadre via YouTube & Twitter
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.