CEO Elon Musk says SpaceX’s first fully-integrated Starship prototype is about to launch a 15-kilometer (~ 50,000-foot) launch on Tuesday after completing a second three-engine static fire test.
Starship 8th’s serial (SN8) three raptor engines flashed for a few seconds on Tuesday, November 24 CST (UTC-6), a record-breaking Falcon 9 rocket less than four hours before the launch of another batch of Starlink satellites about a thousand miles east. Presumably briefly pressed at .00 metric tons (6000 kN / ~ 1.3M lbf), the Static Fire of the second triple engine of the Starship SN8 was the first with a triangle of actual engines.
On November 13, when the hypersonic raptor exhaust cut off the critical control wires and triggered a clear engine waterlogging, a steady fire of one or two otherwise successful engines almost ended in disaster. Thanks to the failed success of a “burst disc”, Starship SN8 – unable to execute the valves needed to be depressed – was spared from catastrophic damage. Believing it to be SN32, the damaged raptor was later removed on November 14 and replaced by SN42 on November 16.
As such, the SN8’s November 24 permanent fire was the first with a fixed set of three engines, although it was the rocket’s second three-engine test. With the SN42 now proving to be (hopefully) flight ready, it remains to be seen whether SpaceX will attempt a more stable fire before Musk’s promised 15km launch launch.
SpaceX’s CST has a fixed fire backup window open from 5am to 5pm until November 25, and the launch of Starship SN8 will be closed on November 30 from 1am to 5pm with backup from 5am to 5pm. Until 1st and 2nd December.
With more than a month now spent on the launch pad, SpaceX is increasingly less likely to continue to choose the first precaution for the upcoming Starship SN8 test. As musk has recently been released and is easily visible from official roads, SpaceX’s Boca Chika factory is creating an extraordinary backlog of giant steel rockets. Just today, November 25, Starship SN9 (featuring “minor improvements”) has officially reached the full 50-meter (~ 165 feet) height after starting the installation of the nose section of SpaceX. Simply put, if the SN8 is lost during testing, the Starship SN9 will probably be ready to roll to the launch site as soon as the pad is clear.
Meanwhile, Starship SN10 is probably only 7-10 days away from the same kind of Nakkon stacking milestone and Starship SN11’s tank division is just one stack away from completion, probably less than two weeks behind SN10. In other words, Insofar is a priority as speed and cheaper than the majority-steel bill materials of each prototype starship anywhere near, SpaceX is building rockets so fast that it is almost unwise to spend more than a few weeks working through any ship’s bugs.
Kasturi added that Starship SN15 will host some mysterious “big upgrades”, possibly to some extent productive improvements and design revisions. Because the starship SN15 (and perhaps a very large portion of the SN16) is already visually working on Boca Chika, it feels even less like spending an external amount of time on an earlier prototype.
But it doesn’t come as a huge surprise, but the musk that SN8 gave – Warsaw and all – A 33% chance Successful launch, ‘skydiving’ back to Earth, reign of one or more raptors and landing in one piece. The only real assurance is that regardless of the outcome, the starship’s high-altitude launch debut is guaranteed to be spectacular. Stay tuned for updates as SpaceX approaches its November 30th target.