SpaceX has conducted its historic 31-engine on its Starship booster. SpaceX fired all of the engines on the booster of its Starship launch vehicle in a ground test on February 9, one of the last mechanical milestones before the vehicle’s first orbital launch attempt.
The Super Heavy booster fired its engines at around 4:14 pm Eastern time at the company’s Starbase test site in Boca Chica, Texas. The engines fired for around 15 seconds, with both the booster and launch infrastructure appearing intact after the test. The test ran for the full intended duration, said SpaceX. The test was designed to ignite all 33 Raptors in the booster.
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🚨#BREAKING: SpaceX's has conducts its historic 31-engine burn on its Starship booster
SpaceX has successfully fires up the engines on its Super Heavy booster prototype in a major milestone test While 31 of the 33 engines fired, Elon Musk says that the… https://t.co/pQkpPAiozO pic.twitter.com/6NsbX8nUxf
— R A W S A L E R T S (@rawsalerts) February 9, 2023
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk posted on Twitter immediately after the test that controllers turned off one engine just before the test and stopped itself during the test “But still enough engines to reach orbit!” he said.
Team turned off 1 engine just before start & 1 stopped itself, so 31 engines fired overall.
But still enough engines to reach orbit! https://t.co/QYx3oVM4Gw
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 9, 2023
Previously, company officials had said a full 33-engine static-fire test was the final major test for the vehicle before the first orbital launch attempt. “It’s really the final ground test that we can do before we light ’em up and go,” SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell said at the Federal Aviation Administration’s Commercial Space Transportation Conference on February 8, when she announced the scheduled test.
SpaceX is crucial to both SpaceX’s plans to deploy its next-generation Starship system and for NASA, which will use a lunar lander version of Starship for landing astronauts on the moon on the Artemis 3 mission through the Human Landing System (HLS) program.
It was unclear whether SpaceX will perform another static fire test, with all 33 engines, before the powerful, next-generation rocket launches to space for the first time. That launch, a test mission lifting off from Texas and landing off the coast of Hawaii, could happen “in the next month or so,” SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell said at the conference. The launch date depends on the result of Thursday’s static fire test.
The test-firing of Starship’s 31 Raptor engines is likely to set a new record for the amount of thrust produced by a single rocket, around 17 million pounds against 10.5 million pounds for the Russian N1, and 8 million pounds for NASA’s Space Launch System, commentators on a live stream by space media group NASA Spaceflight said. Starship’s development is partially funded by NASA.