SpaceX Fires Up Starship Booster At Orbital Launch Pad

SpaceX Achieving A New Milestone

For the first time, SpaceX has static fired a Starship booster at its South Texas orbital launch pad, marking important milestones for both.

After months of cautious testing and multiple rounds of repairs, Super Heavy Booster 7 made it through its first Raptor tests (without causing an explosion) on August 8th, completing a pair of “spin-prime” tests with one Raptor engine.

Booster 7 began testing in early April, more than four months ago. As previously discussed on Teslarati, the massive 69-meter-tall (~227 ft) rocket has had an exceptionally rocky journey to its current test campaign.

A New Attempt of SpaceX

Starship Booster
SpaceX conducts a static fire test with the Booster 7 Super Heavy prototype in South Texas on Aug. 9, 2022, lighting up one of the vehicle’s 33 Raptor engines. (Image credit: SpaceX)

On July 11th, Booster 7 attempted a spin-prime test with all 33 of its Raptor 2 engines after a series of halting, minimal tests in late June and early July. Booster 7 was partially loaded with either propellant or a combination of more neutral cryogenic fluids.

(More on SpaceX Starship’s Super Heavy Booster ready with dozens of Raptor Engines Here.)

 Parts of Super Heavy’s aft section were severely damaged when the gas combination that testing produced ignited accidentally and violently detonated. For the third time, SpaceX brought Booster 7 back to its Starbase facility, where it was dismantled, repaired, and reinstalled with Raptor engines.

(More on SpaceX repairs the booster and tested Cryo proof again Here)

About The Boosters And Engine

When Booster 7 arrived at the launch pad for the fourth time on August 6th, it was discovered that SpaceX had only replaced 20 of the rocket’s maximum 33 Raptor engines.

SpaceX ‘primed’ just one of those 20 Raptors on August 8th, clearly indicating a much more cautious second attempt at engine testing, by pumping high-pressure gas through the engine to spin up its turbopumps without lighting its preburners (used to produce the gas that powers the turbopumps) or main combustion chamber.

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How Was The Test A Success?

In less than 24 hours, SpaceX successfully began a new round of testing and successfully lit the identical spin-primed engine on its first attempt. Super Heavy B7 successfully completed the test with no apparent issues, and soon after, it was safely depressurized and detanked.

 Additionally, the lone Raptor engine seemed to run flawlessly and finished its clean shutdown after a stable three to four-second burn. The modified Raptor 2 engine was tested for the first time on Booster 7’s first static fire, which was also the second static fire test of a Super Heavy.

The Conclusion

Raptor 2 is intended to produce up to 230 tonnes (or 510,000 lbf) of thrust, which is over 25% higher than Raptor 1 (185 tonnes or 410,000 lbf), at the expense of slightly less efficient combustion. The test window for August 9th, which closes at 10 pm CDT (03:00 UTC), has about four hours left.

SpaceX still has time to fly Starship S24, which also successfully completed Raptor spin-prime tests on August 8. On Wednesday, August 10th, a second road closure from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. is planned by SpaceX.

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