SpaceX’s Starship performs its first static Super Heavy firing

SpaceX tested the two segments of the Starship separately. Firing tests which were conclusive and made it possible to carry out a first static firing of the Super Heavy.

This is a step in the development of Starship, SpaceX’s future rocket. While waiting for the famous orbital flight that the American company must conduct, in principle in 2022, engine ignition tests took place in Texas on August 9. On this occasion, the two segments of the Starship were put to the test. The tests went well.

The Starship is a launcher project under construction, which will replace SpaceX’s rockets in a few years – that is to say the Falcon 9, because the Falcon Heavy is a Falcon 9 supported by two side boosters which are in fact pieces of two other Falcon 9. It is composed of two floors: at the top is Starship, at the bottom Super Heavy.

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The upper segment, Starship, has already been put to the test on several occasions over the past three years. However, it took until May 2021 for the upper part of the rocket to successfully complete a maneuver in the sky and return to land safely – before, the tests always ended badly. Since then, the company has not repeated any such test.

The test organized on August 9 consisted, details SpaceX on Twitter, in carrying out a static firing of Starship 24 – namely the twenty-fourth copy which was manufactured. During this test, two Raptor rocket engines were ignited (there must be six in all). During its aerial tests, SpaceX had already implemented three rocket engines.

A static firing for the Super Heavy

It is also during this day that SpaceX performed for the first time to a static firing test at the Super Heavy level. It had never been tested in such a configuration. The model in question – Super Heavy Booster 7 – had suffered an incident in mid-July, with a strong explosion, but without causing irreparable damage.

The Super Heavy is the main stage of the Starship. It provides propulsion during liftoff to the upper atmosphere, with a total of 33 Raptor rocket engines — but here only one was ignited. In principle, once high enough in the sky, the Super Heavy detaches from the Starship (the upper floor), which can continue its race towards the stars.

Starship SpaceX
An assembled version of the Starship. The Super Heavy is the gray column, the Starship the black vehicle. // Source: SpaceX

A static shot mimics a real firing. These ignitions often occur before an operational flight, to do a final check. As part of these August 9 tests, SpaceX of course carried out an “incomplete” static firing, in the sense that neither of the two segments was equipped with all of its thrusters, and that each stage was challenged independently.

It is however a milestone for SpaceX, with a first successful start for the Super Heavy. One step closer to his goal of flying a complete version of the Starship over a large portion of the world. But there are still a lot of steps to be done before then. As it stands, a flight in 2022 seems increasingly uncertain.

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Source: Elon Musk

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