SpaceX is prepping for another test launch of its Starship prototype scheduled to blast off in approximately six weeks. Last night, a six-engine static fire test took place at SpaceX’s Starbase launch site in Boca Chica, Texas.
Starship is one of the world’s first commercial spaceports designed for orbital missions “service to Earth orbit, moon, Mars and beyond.” Starship is both a spacecraft and a Super Heavy rocket designed to be a “fully reusable transportation system designed to carry both crew and cargo.”
This was a trial run of the upper stage of the Starship rocket and was deemed a successful one at that. Starship 25 fired its Raptor engines for only a couple of seconds but provided a wealth of information for the team behind its upcoming launch. This test launch is a predecessor to the eventual 33 methane-fueled Raptor engines of the lower-stage booster portion of the rocket.
As reported by Gizmodo, SpaceX’s CEO Elon Musk has stated “Starship needs well over a thousand tweaks before it can fly again.” Some of these alterations include installing a water deluge system to prevent damage to the launch site as well as changing to a “hot-staging approach” which will enable the upper stage of the rocket to ignite before disengaging from the booster.
Back in April, SpaceX held its first Starship launch which lasted around four minutes, reaching around 26 miles before being ordered to explode due to faltering engines. Some engines didn’t light while others quickly burned out. Additionally, the booster and ship failed to separate as intended, sending the original Starship to waver and tumble off course.
Before the April launch, Elon Musk said, “There’s a lot of risk associated with this first launch, so I would not say that it is likely to be successful. But I think we will make a lot of progress.”
While SpaceX makes more adjustments to Starship, the company also awaits full approval from the Federal Aviation Administration following the explosive first launch attempt. The FAA’s investigation is still ongoing, as are SpaceX’s enhancements and “tweaks” to the rocket.