SpaceX is preparing its Starship Mars rocket for its first ever orbital test flight. It could be soon.
SpaceX ignited several Raptor engines on Booster 7 today, a prototype for Starship’s first stage Super Heavy rocket.
The static fire started at 2:42 PM EST (1942 GMT), and lasted 13 seconds. The test was captured by NASASpaceFlight (opens new tab) as well Rocket Ranch Boca Chica. It seemed to have been a strong one, indicating that it involved a large number of Booster 7 Raptors. SpaceX confirmed that Booster 7 had lit 11 of its engines shortly after the test.
Related: SpaceX’s Starship Super Heavy booster test-fires record 14 engines (video)
SpaceX tested its Booster 7 Starship prototype on Nov. 29, 2022, firing 11 Raptor engines. (Image credit SpaceX via Twitter. Wednesday’s test marked the first static fire for Booster 7 in a year since Nov. 14, when it lit up 14 Raptors.
Shortly after that trial, SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk said that the company planned to perform just one or two more static fires (opens in new tab) with Booster 7 before launching an orbital test flight — the first ever for the Starship program.
Booster 7 will be used in the orbital mission, as well as Ship 24, a prototype for Starship’s 165-foot (50 meter) tall upper stage. The Raptors are powering the upper stage. Ship 24 has already ignited all its engines in a Sept. 8 static firing.
Starship will become the most powerful rocket to fly by successfully completing an orbital flight. NASA’s Space Launch System megarocket currently holds that title. It was launched on Nov. 16, and kickstarted the agency’s Artemis 1 missions.
SpaceX is building Starship to transport cargo and people to Mars and to the moon. NASA is already a NASA customer. NASA selected the large vehicle to carry out at least two crewed moon missions for its Artemis program. It aims to establish an ongoing human presence on the moon by the 2020s.
Editor’s note – This story was updated at 4 :35 PM EST to clarify that SpaceX confirmed that 11 Raptors took part in the static flame.
Mike Wall is author of “Out There (opens new tab);” (Grand Central Publishing 2018, illustrated by Karl Tate), an e-book about the search for alien life. Follow him @michaeldwall (opens new tab). Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or on Facebook (opens new tab).
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Michael Wall is a Senior Space Writer with Space.com (opens in new tab) and joined the team in 2010. He Although he focuses primarily on spaceflight, exoplanets and military space, he has also been known to be interested in space art. His book, “Out There,” about the search for alien life was published in November 2018. Before Michael began his career as a scientist writer after he worked as a wildlife biologist and herpetologist. He He holds a Ph.D. degree in evolutionary biology from Sydney University, Australia. A bachelor’s degree is from Arizona University. And a certificate in science writing at the University of California, Santa Cruz. You can follow Michael on Twitter to see his latest projects.