On Thursday afternoon, SpaceX's Starship SN24 roared to life during a six engine static-fire test at the Starbase launch pad in Boca Chica Beach, Texas. The stainless-steel vehicle is the prototype that will perform a debut orbital flight test this year. Engineers are performing pre-flight tests. SN24 is equipped with six Raptor V2 engines, three designed for atmospheric flight and three engines with a larger nozzle optimized for the vacuum of outer space. The engines are fueled with cryogenic liquid methane (CH4) and liquid oxygen (LOX).
Looks like S24 lit all six. That's some serious flame! #SpaceX #Starbase #Texas #Starship pic.twitter.com/X22EaUixLA— LabPadre (@LabPadre) September 8, 2022
Ship 24 completes 6-engine static fire test at Starbase pic.twitter.com/y7IiAGL3LA— SpaceX (@SpaceX) September 8, 2022
Even though the static-fire test only lasted around 8 seconds, the Raptor's powerful thrust was enough to spark a fire thar spread out to the nearby grassy fields. A U.S. National Wildlife Refuge neighbors the Starbase launch pad along the sandy beach. The local fire department was at the site in case SpaceX needed help to put off the flames. According to a NASASpaceflight livestream, the company initially waited for the grass fire to burn itself out under their supervision. The fire trucks approached the flames to help put it off as it got taller and expanded along the grass on State Highway 4, video clip shown below.
Now the fire trucks are going in. pic.twitter.com/USO5k9eX6p— Chris Bergin - NSF (@NASASpaceflight) September 9, 2022
Starship SN24 will be propelled to orbit by Super Heavy Booster 7 which is equipped with 33 Raptor V2 engines. SpaceX has never flown a vehicle with over 3 engines at Starbase. Engineers have been testing both vehicles over the last couple of months to prepare for the long-awaited flight to orbit the planet and return. SpaceX plans to fly Starship SN24 across the Florida Straits to space and land it in the ocean near Hawaii. The booster is expected to return to the launch pad, either by a propulsive ocean landing or SpaceX could attempt to "catch" the 230-foot-tall rocket with the launch tower's robotic arms.
Starship SN24 is prepped with black color heatshield tiles that will protect it from the high temperature it will experience when crossing through Earth's atmosphere. During the static-fire test, the Raptors power shook the vehicle and some tiles fell off. "Almost 30 damaged or missing tiles on Ship 24 after an six engine static fire test that lasted for 8 seconds!" said a Twitter user who follows Starship's development closely. "Yup, there’s a reason we do static fires! Much better to break things on the ground than en route to orbit," replied SpaceX founder Elon Musk. A clear date for Starship/Super Heavy debut orbital flight attempt has not been publicly established. The company is still pending a spaceflight license from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration.
Yup, there’s a reason we do static fires! Much better to break things on the ground than en route to orbit.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 8, 2022
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.