SpaceX company today in the United States, Texas star base conducted an important rocket test, for its next generation of space transportation system starship (Starship) flight test ready.
The test was of Starship’s first-stage prototype, the Super Heavy Booster, designated Booster 9. It underwent a static ignition test on the Starbase’s orbital launch pad, briefly firing its 33 Raptor Engines and holding it stationary on the ground.
Not all of the engines ran perfectly during the test, with four shutting down prematurely. However, 29 of the 33 engines worked properly, and neither Booster 9 nor the orbital launch pad were damaged.
“Congratulations to the Starship team for passing today’s test,” SpaceX’s John Insprucker said on the air, “This brings us one step closer to our next flight test.”
Starship, SpaceX’s next-generation space transportation system designed to transport people and cargo to the moon, Mars and elsewhere, has already completed one full flight test. Launched from Starbase on April 20, 2023, the goal of that test was to send the upper stage prototype, Ship 24, into a semicircular orbit around Earth, with an expected landing in the Pacific Ocean near Hawaii. However, that mission was unsuccessful, with Starfleet experiencing several problems shortly after takeoff and SpaceX sending a self-destruct command to destroy the vehicle over the Gulf of Mexico.
The April 20 launch also caused considerable damage to the Starbase’s orbital launch pad and surrounding facilities. To prevent this from happening again, SpaceX installed a water spray system under the pad — a steel plate that sprays water to dampen the enormous amount of energy generated by the 33 Raptor engines of the super-heavy rocket boosters. In today’s test, the new water-jet system seemed to perform well, with large amounts of water spraying upward toward the ignited Raptor engines.
The upcoming flight test will involve Booster 9 and an upper stage prototype, Ship 25, with similar objectives to the first launch. However, it’s unclear when this launch will take place, as technical issues aren’t the only hurdles SpaceX must address. For example, a coalition of environmental and indigenous groups is currently suing the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which grants licenses to launch starships from interstellar bases. The lawsuit claims that the agency failed to properly assess the damage such a launch could cause to the South Texas ecosystem and is demanding a more rigorous environmental review before any more starships take off from the site.