SpaceX’s new Starship prototype fired again
On Wednesday (Dec. 29), the Starship SN20 vehicle underwent a “static fire” test at the company’s Starbase location in South Texas. While remaining attached to the ground, it briefed the lighting of its Raptor engines.
The trial continued the launch-preparation campaign for SN20 (Serial No. 20), the Starship program’s very first orbital test flight. It is all set to operate in the coming months. The historic liftoff was supposed to happen in January or February, but it will now happen in early March. This is because the US Federal Aviation Administration recently postponed the deadline for a needed Starbase environmental evaluation from December 31 to February 28.
SN20 has already performed static fires. On Nov. 12, the truck turned on all six of its Raptors. For example, SpaceX has yet to confirm if all six engines were used in Wednesday’s test, which NASASpaceflight webcast live.
SpaceX is working on a spacecraft called Starship that will transport people and goods to the moon, Mars, and beyond.
The vehicle comprised two elements, of which, both are designed to be completely and speedily reusable:
- An enormous first-stage booster known as Super Heavy
- a huge spacecraft called ‘Starship’
Starship prototypes had already flown, although only on short missions that reached altitudes of roughly 6.2 miles (10 kilometers). None of the launches earlier comprised Starship vehicles with more than 3 Raptors, and none took off on a Super Heavy rocket.
The upcoming Test Flights
The upcoming orbital mission will see SN20 riding atop Booster 4, a Super Heavy with 29 Raptors of its own. Booster 4 will splash down in the Gulf of Mexico shortly after liftoff if everything goes according to plan, and SN20 will make it all the way to orbit. This will eventually erupt near the Hawaiian island of Kauai, causing a splashdown of its own.
More test flights are anticipated to follow in fast succession, as SpaceX strives to get Starship operational as soon as possible. For NASA’s Artemis program, which seeks to put people on the moon by the middle of the decade, Starship was chosen as the first crewed lander.
Yusaku Maezawa, a Japanese millionaire, has booked a round-the-moon journey on Starship after returning from a 12-day stint aboard the International Space Station. The Starship is scheduled to launch in 2023.