Title: SpaceX Successfully Test-Fires Booster for Next Starship Launch, Prepares for FAA Approval
August 25, Boca Chica, Texas – In a significant step towards its next Starship launch, SpaceX successfully test-fired the booster at its Starbase test site. The test conducted on August 25 saw the firing of the Raptor engines in the Super Heavy booster designated Booster 9, marking a crucial milestone for the company.
During the test, all 33 engines were successfully ignited, showcasing the progress made by SpaceX. However, two engines shut down prematurely, raising the stakes for the upcoming launch. The firing lasted approximately five to six seconds, indicative of a positive improvement compared to the previous test on August 6. During that test, the engines fired for less than three seconds, with four Raptors shutting down ahead of schedule.
This latest test’s outcome will be critical in determining if SpaceX is ready for a second integrated Starship/Super Heavy launch. Despite the success, SpaceX will still need to obtain the necessary approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Modifications to the existing launch license will also need to be reviewed before the launch can proceed.
SpaceX has already submitted a report on the April 20 launch failure to the FAA. However, the agency has yet to grant approval and assess the required changes. According to industry observers, the approval process may take several weeks, further underscoring the meticulousness of the FAA’s evaluation.
The company has made several adjustments to the launch vehicle and pad based on the lessons learned from the April launch failure. The pad now features a water deluge system specifically designed to mitigate damage caused by the Raptor plume. Additionally, the booster has been equipped with an interstage ring and vents to accommodate a “hot-staging” approach. This unique strategy involves igniting the engines of the Starship upper stage while it remains attached to the Super Heavy booster.
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk expressed increased optimism regarding the success of the next launch, mentioning the implementation of “well over a thousand” other changes to the vehicle. However, Musk estimates the probability of the next flight reaching orbit to be around 60%, indicating that challenges still lie ahead.
As the anticipation builds and SpaceX awaits the FAA’s approval, space enthusiasts eagerly await the next chapter in the Starship program. The successful test-firing of the booster brings the company closer to its goal of revolutionizing space travel and perhaps paving the way for future interplanetary missions.
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