Lately, there has a lot been going on at SpaceX’s Starbase station for the Starship program located at Boca Chica Beach in Texas. Starship’s 1st orbital flight test has been much delayed. And as we are getting closer to Christmas and the New Year, this test is most probably be happening next year.
However, SpaceX has not paused development and testing on Starship and its components like the Super Heavy rocket booster prototypes, and Raptor engines.
SpaceX performed a static fire test on Starship SN24 (Ship 24) with only one Raptor 2 engine on Friday 16th December. Interestingly, SpaceX posted a video of this test from a camera placed far above Ship 24 providing a unique visual experience. This video was also retweeted by SpaceX CEO Elon Musk.
Wow, the sound of a lone Raptor’s 230 tons of thrust is quite astounding. Imagine the bang of a 33-engine thrust when Starship is launched into orbit.
SpaceX tests Raptor engines both at Starbase and its McGregor rocket development facility. At Starbase, Raptor engines are mostly tested while mounted under Super Heavy Rocket Boosters or Starship prototypes, while at McGregor, SpaceX fires them on vertical and horizontal test stands.
On 2nd December, a Raptor engine was destroyed during testing resulting in a RUD (rapid unscheduled disassembly). This was the first time a Raptor 2 engine ended in a RUD while testing on the vertical test stand (watch below).
Last week, SpaceX moved Booster 9 rocket from the production site to the launch site and back multiple times. The team from NASASpaceFlight noticed several design changes to this Super Heavy prototype.
Interestingly, a Starlink dish was spotted mounted in Booster 9’s chine (In aerospace design, a chine is a longitudinal line of sharp change in the cross-section profile of the fuselage or similar body — Wikipedia).
A Starlink dish on a Starship will give it additional connectivity to the world’s internet at least when it is doing only orbital flights. We just might witness the use of this connectivity feature in a live stream attempt during the Starship dearMoon launch that is expected to happen in 2023.
Other activities at Starbase included a Raptor relight test, Starship flap testing before the static fire test we saw above, Repairs on Starship 24, and upgrades to the Orbital Launch Pad.
Let’s watch the Starship single-engine static fire test from the ground angle as the team of NasaSpaceFlight.com recorded it.
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