Full-Duration Engine Test Paves Way For Return To Flight
SpaceX has commenced testing critical hardware as the company aims to conduct the third Starship integrated flight test as soon as regulatory approval is obtained. Both the Starship vehicle (Ship 28) and Super Heavy booster (Booster 10) have been positioned at the launch site, arriving only one month after the previous test flight ended prematurely.
Ship 28 kicked off the comprehensive test campaign by firing all six Raptor engines for approximately four seconds. This milestone, known as a static fire test, followed extensive cryogenic proof testing and a rapid spin prime test over recent days. The smooth static fire is one of the final tests traditionally conducted for Starship vehicles at the launch site, as SpaceX recently cleared space to build a second full-scale launch tower that may enable future testing to occur off-site.
Teams also partially loaded Booster 10 with liquid oxygen and methane propellant ahead of a potential static fire trial, before safing the vehicle. With the road reopened around the launch site, engineers are diagnysing data to resolve any technical issues encountered during the test sequence.
While additional verification testing lies ahead, SpaceX continues to aggressively advance Starship and Super Heavy in hopes of launching the next integrated flight test. With the launch facilities performing well post-flight, regulatory approval may represent the final hurdle prior to SpaceX’s next attempt at reaching orbit.
Flight 3 Starship completed a full-duration static fire with all six of its Raptor engines pic.twitter.com/Mxn8faKcEv
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) December 20, 2023