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Watch SpaceX fire Starship’s Raptor engines ahead of 4th test flight

SpaceX performed a full-duration static fire of all six Raptor engines on its Starship spacecraft on Monday, and shared a video of the dramatic test on social media.

Full-duration static fire of all six Raptor engines on Flight 4 Starship pic.twitter.com/HzS4SeaoEV

— SpaceX (@SpaceX) March 25, 2024

The static fire, which involved tethering the vehicle to the ground before igniting the engines, took place ahead of the fourth test flight of the entire rocket. The rocket consists of the first-stage Super Heavy — the most powerful booster in the world — and the upper-stage Starship spacecraft. Collectively and somewhat confusingly, the entire vehicle is known as the Starship.

The Starship spacecraft deploys its rocket engines once separated from the Super Heavy booster. One of the engines’ most important roles is to guide and slow the spacecraft as it descends for an upright landing, whether on Earth or some other celestial body. The Starship achieved such a landing during testing in a solo suborbital flight in 2021.

As with the first two test missions, which took place in April and November last year, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is overseeing an investigation into the third test flight that took place earlier this month. Once that is complete, the FAA will likely hand SpaceX a permit for the fourth flight, which SpaceX believes could get airborne as early as May.

The Starship has performed better with each flight, with the third test achieving a slew of firsts that included getting the Starship spacecraft to orbit. SpaceX engineers have been taking data collected from each test mission and using it to improve the flight systems, and therefore, much is expected from the fourth flight.

Once fully tested, the 120-meter-tall Starship rocket is expected to carry crew and cargo to the moon and possibly even to Mars. But a lot of development work still has to be completed before the rocket is deemed safe enough for such ambitious missions.

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Trevor Mogg
Contributing Editor
Not so many moons ago, Trevor moved from one tea-loving island nation that drives on the left (Britain) to another (Japan)…
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