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As part of its testing campaign for the Starship launch vehicle platform, SpaceX conducted two important tests yesterday in its facilities in Boca Chica, Texas. The company is currently developing its Starship next generation launch vehicle platform in Texas, and the rocket is made of a first stage booster and the upper stage spacecraft. SpaceX tested both of their engines through a static fire test, in a more cautious approach that reflected a major accident last month that threatened to damage the 33 engines present on the booster. Footage of the test shared by the company and by watchful observers indicted that they went smoothly, enabling SpaceX to move forward to a highly anticipated orbital test flight sometime later this year.
SpaceX Successfully Fires Up Engines On Both Of Its Rockets For A Couple Of Seconds
The tests came within days of SpaceX having shipped its Booster 7 prototype to the launch pad after inspecting all its engines and other components in the wake of a massive fireball. This fireball erupted when the company tested the engine pumps and a fuel rich air mixture led to a loud explosion which generated shockwaves.
SpaceX shipped Booster 7 back to its inspection facilities and then back to the launch pad within a month and then proceeded to test a single Raptor 2 engine on it for the first time. The booster uses 33 of these engines, and following the mishap, the company's chief Mr. Elon Musk shared that moving forward it would not risk testing the engines in one go.
The engine test, dubbed as a static fire, is the first time that SpaceX has tested a Raptor engine on a Super Heavy booster, and should it find that there were no anomalies in the test after analyzing all the data, then the company will be confident to test more engines.
Footage from onlookers confirmed that the static fire was successful, and SpaceX stayed true to its mantra of moving fast as it not only tested the Booster 7's pumps but also its engines within days after transporting it from its testing facilities.
Additionally, Tuesday was the day for static fires as not only was Booster 7 tested, but Starship's upper stage spacecraft prototype, Ship 24 also saw a similar test. However, while only a single engine was tested on the booster, the ship saw two of its engines light up. While SpaceX is yet to fly its boosters, it has already conducted several flights of the spacecraft and managed to land some of them as well as part of a testing campaign last year that captivated observers and onlookers.
The duration of both tests was short, with the booster's test lasting for roughly five seconds and the spacecraft's test clocking in roughly six seconds. Both the rockets use SpaceX's Raptor 2 engines, which are a significant upgrade over the first generation engines that were part of last year's testing run. The new Raptors feature several changes such as a simplified design and proprietary fuel ignitors.
After the latest testing run, SpaceX still has to test all of the engines on both vehicles before it will be comfortable for an orbital flight test. The company's current authorization from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) allows it to conduct low level test flights, and it is uncertain whether Booster 7 will be tested sub-orbitally before a riskier orbital test.
Here's SpaceX's latest footage for the Starship Ship 24 prototype static fire:
Static fire test of two Raptor engines on Starship 24 pic.twitter.com/NNpViztphI
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) August 10, 2022