SpaceX’s most recent Starship prototype just thundered to life. The Starship SN10 (“Serial No. 10”) vehicle played out its first “static fire” test on Tuesday (Feb. 23), illuminating its three Raptor engines for a few seconds at 6:03 p.m. EST (2303 GMT) at SpaceX’s South Texas site, close to the Gulf Coast settlement of Boca Chica Village.
Static fires, in which engines momentarily light while a rocket stays secured to the ground, are a typical preflight checkout for SpaceX. In the event that all worked out positively for the present test, SN10 stays on target to launch soon — maybe as early as Thursday (Feb. 25) — on a 6-mile-high (10 kilometers) exhibition trip into the South Texas skies.
It will be the third high-altitude test for a Starship vehicle, after comparative side trips in December 2020 and Feb. 2 of this current year by SN10’s two prompt archetypes, SN8 and SN9. Both of those flights worked out in a good way until the end; SN8 and SN9 hammered hard onto their landing pads, detonating in dramatic fireballs.
Such flights are a crucial part of the improvement way for Starship, which SpaceX sees as the vehicle that will make Mars colonization economically feasible. The Starship system will comprise of two completely reusable parts: a 165-foot-tall (50 meters) shuttle called Starship and an enormous rocket known as Super Heavy.
The last Starship will have six Raptors, and Super Heavy will sport around 30 of the engines, SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk has said. Starship will be sufficiently amazing to launch itself off the moon and Mars, yet the spacecraft will require Super Heavy to get off Earth.
We’ll probably see a lot more Starship test flights over the coming weeks and months, regardless of how SN10’s launch goes. Musk recently said that SpaceX plans to launch a prototype to Earth orbit this year, and he imagines Starship carrying individuals routinely by 2023.