Featured Image Source: @StarshipGazer via Twitter
SpaceX’s first-ever orbital Starship flight could happen in just a few weeks! Super Heavy Booster 7 will lift off from the Starbase launch site at Boca Chica Beach, Texas, to propel Starship SN24 to orbit. Soon after the rocket launches Starship to orbit, it will perform a landing either in the Gulf of Mexico or return to the launch pad to be ‘caught’ by the launch tower's robotic arms, according to a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) filing that details the flight plan. Starship SN24 will circle Earth across Florida Straits and reach a maximum altitude of 250 kilometers (km). For perspective, the International Space Station orbits at an approximate altitude of 400 km. SN24 will complete the flight test with an ocean landing along the northwest coast of Kauai, Hawaii.
It will be the first time SpaceX launches Super Heavy, which is destined to become the world’s most powerful operational rocket powered by 33 Raptor V2 engines that are capable of generating over 16 million pounds of thrust. SpaceX founder Elon Musk shared that SpaceX will test ignite the Super Heavy rocket soon. "Hustling to get Starship Booster 7 back to pad to test outer ring of 20 engines," he announced via Twitter on August 5th. Musk shared a video of the gigantic 230-foot-tall stainless-steel rocket inside the vehicle assembly building. "I love the smell of hydraulic fluid in the morning," Musk joked at 1:13 a.m. Texas Central Time.
Hustling to get Starship Booster 7 back to pad to test outer ring of 20 engines— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 5, 2022
At launch pad pic.twitter.com/qFVpVkLa9v— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 6, 2022
Super Heavy Booster 7 returned to the launch pad after it went through an explosion on July 11. "This particular issue was specific to the engine spin start test (Raptor has a complex start sequence). Going forward, we won’t do a spin start test with all 33 engines at once," said Musk after the blast. SpaceX teams fixed the damage and started a new round of testing this week. Photographer Starship Gazer shared photos of Booster 7 as Starbase teams transported it from the factory to the launch pad down the road, linked below. On August 6, Super Heavy Booster 7 was lifted onto the orbital launch mount with "only 20 of 33 Raptor engines installed," according to Starship Gazer who shared a stunning photograph of the Raptor V2 engines. SpaceX plans to ignite 20 Raptors during a static-fire test. which consists of the engines being fueled with cryogenic liquid methane and liquid oxygen and ignited for a few seconds while mounted.
Booster 7 on the move! Nice hustle SpaceX!— Starship Gazer (@StarshipGazer) August 6, 2022
10:38 pm 8/5/22 pic.twitter.com/hLsL1KUGuh
On Monday, August 8, SpaceX engineers performed more preflight testing on Booster 7. According to NASASpaceflight, SpaceX performed two "Spin Prime tests" of a single Raptor engine and two of the Starship SN24 vehicle of all 6 engines. NASASpaceflight shared video clips of the test. Cameron County's website states that "possible closures" of Boca Chica Beach could take place on August 9 and August 10 from 10:00 a.m. through 10:00 p.m. which usually indicates SpaceX could continue some testing.
And another one for B7.— Chris Bergin - NSF (@NASASpaceflight) August 9, 2022
That's four Spin Prime tests in total this window for those keeping count. pic.twitter.com/Hi9RGKE41y
And another one. pic.twitter.com/HsnFs3cJZD— Chris Bergin - NSF (@NASASpaceflight) August 8, 2022
Image Source: SpaceX Elon Musk