SpaceX has completed the latest test of a prototype of its Starship rocket, intended to carry astronauts to the moon and even eventually to Mars. The static fire test, conducted on Sunday August 24, was captured in this video by NASASpaceFlight.
SpaceX has a number of prototype Starships which it uses in testing, and the one seen in the video is the SN6. For the static fire test the prototype is wheeled out to a launch site, fueled, and prepared as if for a real takeoff. The rocket doesn’t actually take off, staying on the ground where it is held in place by a mount, but it does fire its engines at full blast for a few seconds.
This test allows engineers to check whether the fuel is flowing correctly and whether the pressure and temperature of the system is within safe levels.
The SN6 prototype has just one Raptor engine which was fired for the test, while the final Starship will use six of these engines. Still, the sight was impressive, with a huge cloud of dust glowing orange as the test took place.
The static fire test is an important goal to reach before the prototype can achieve one of its key milestones: A hop test, in which the engines are fired and the rocket rises a few hundred meters into the air. It’s expected that the hop test of the SN6 will be performed soon, in the next few weeks.
Another prototype, the SN5, has already recently completed a hop test, as SpaceX is working on testing these two prototypes simultaneously. That may be a wise decision, given the difficulties of testing and development which have meant that several previous prototypes have been destroyed. There was the Starship Mk1 which blew its top during a ground test last year, and the SN3 prototype which collapsed during pressure testing earlier this year, among others.
There’s also another prototype in the works, the SN8, as reported by NASASpaceFlight. This new prototype is drawing considerable attention as it has a nose cone and body flaps attached, meaning it looks more recognizably like the Starship design unveiled by SpaceX CEO Elon Musk last September. We’ll have to wait and see when this new prototype is ready for its own testing to begin, but it will probably be later this year.
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