spacex’s starship hits another milestone with booster static fire test

SpaceX just got one step closer to the first orbital test flight of its launch system Starship with the successful static fire test of a prototype Super Heavy booster late Tuesday afternoon. That booster, “Booster 7,” was rolled to the launch pad overnight last Friday.

The successful test is a notable milestone for SpaceX, which has been working on its Starship program from its Boca Chica development facility in southeast Texas. It comes just a few weeks after a previous booster test resulted in an explosion at the launch pad – though the damage was clearly not catastrophic, as this same booster was tested today.

Just a single Raptor 2 engine was fired during the test, rather than the 33 engines that will ultimately lift Starship to orbit, and the entire test lasted only a few seconds. During a static fire test, the engines spin up to ignition, but the rocket stays on the pad, so engineers can get a good sense of an engine’s performance prior to an actual launch.

NASA Spaceflight livestreamed the test and captured the exact moment of ignition:

Booster 7 Static Fire! Single Raptor 2. Looked great!https://t.co/JVvjW7OkqS pic.twitter.com/qOrB0cJgtL

— Chris Bergin – NSF (@NASASpaceflight) August 9, 2022

The two-stage Starship is comprised of a Super Heavy booster and an 164-foot-tall upper-stage called Starship. The launch system, which stands all together at 394 feet, is designed to be fully reusable – the only rocket in its class that’s designed for reusability by a long margin. Its a key part of SpaceX CEO Elon Musk’s goal to make humans multi-planetary and to spread, in his words, “the light of consciousness” throughout the universe.

Although Musk has postulated a number of possible timelines for the first orbital flight test of Starship, he most recently estimated on Twitter that “a successful orbital flight is probably between 1 and 12 months from now.”

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