SpaceX wrapped up 2023 with a fiery dual test of its next massive rocket booster and spacecraft on Friday (September 29), sharing some stunning videos of both vehicles in the process.
The dual test of engines on the giant Starship and Super Heavy rocket stages at SpaceX's Starbase testbed in Boca Chica, Texas, on Friday comes as the company prepares for Starship's third test launch, which is expected in early 2024.
“Just completed a static fire for the Flight 3 Super Heavy Booster,” SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said Written on X (formerly Twitter) on Friday. The test, which lasted about 10 seconds, succeeded in launching all 33 Raptor engines on the Super Heavy booster, which serves as the first stage of the Starship rocket, the largest and most powerful booster in the world.
Static fire of 33 Super Heavy Raptor engines before Flight 3 pic.twitter.com/rJqNToMCnUDecember 29, 2023
The official X account for SpaceX Successful test confirmed of Super Heavy Booster 10, as well as a separate test of a single Raptor engine on Starship 28 that will ride atop Super Heavy Booster 10 during the upcoming test flight. The company said the Starship test was intended to demonstrate the capabilities of restarting a Raptor engine in space.
“Single Raptor engine ignition on Starship 3 flight shows flight-like startup for in-space burn,” SpaceX Posted by X.
SpaceX will launch two Starship test flights in 2023, first in April and then in November, though neither test flight succeeded in achieving its goal of sending the Starship upper stage vehicle around Earth to a landing point in the Pacific Ocean near Hawaii. While the first stage of Super Heavy was the first stage. It fell into the Gulf of Mexico.
Related: SpaceX's second Starship launch is stunning in stunning photos and video
One Raptor engine ignites on Flight 3 Starship showing flight-like start to burn in space pic.twitter.com/BCv6iIUnagDecember 29, 2023
During a test launch in April, Starship and its super-heavy booster failed to separate as planned, prompting SpaceX to intentionally blow up the rocket four minutes after liftoff. The test also destroyed much of SpaceX's Starship launch pad, requiring extensive repairs.
The second test flight, called Flight 2, demonstrated several major successes, including a successful separation phase and normal combustion of the first stage engine. However, the spacecraft's upper stage exploded about eight minutes after liftoff after experiencing an event that triggered the automated flight termination system. The first stage also exploded shortly after the stage separated.
SpaceX's spacecraft and giant Super Heavy rocket are designed to be fully reusable and will one day fly astronauts to the moon and back. NASA has used Starship to land Artemis 3 astronauts on the moon, and SpaceX has already booked private flights around the moon with several customers.
When stacked, the spacecraft and its super-heavy booster are about 400 feet (122 meters) tall as the largest rocket ever built. It is also designed to be the most powerful, capable of transporting up to 165 tons (150 metric tons) of cargo to low Earth orbit.
While SpaceX hopes to launch Flight Test 3 of its Starship system soon, it's unclear exactly when that will happen. The company must wait for launch authorization from the Federal Aviation Administration, which is overseeing the investigation into Flight 2. The FAA likely will not grant authorization for Flight 3 until that investigation is complete and SpaceX implements any corrective actions that may be required. , if it exists at all.
Friday's Starship and Super Heavy engine tests came one day after an epic double-headed rocket launch to close out the company's launch year.
On Thursday (December 28), SpaceX launched a Falcon Heavy rocket carrying an X-37B robotic spaceplane for the US Space Force from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, then launched a Falcon 9 rocket (carrying 23 Starlink satellites ) from space. near Cape Canaveral Space Force Station less than three hours later.
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