SpaceX tests the massive new Starship OLM water deluge system at full scale, Booster 9 propellant load test, Starbase updates



SpaceX expanded the range and speed of its tests since we last reported the mounting of Booster 9 on the Starship OLM more than a week ago.

In the first Starship flight test, the base of the Orbital Launch Mount (OLM) was significantly damaged due to the thrust impact and heat of Super Heavy Raptor engines. This event also scorched the water deluge system under the base.

Super Heavy Booster 9 went through a propellant load test. While SpaceX performed a cryogenic pressure-proof test on Starship 28.

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Starship OLM Water Deluge System Test

It took months to repair the OLM. SpaceX redesigned and upgraded the water deluge system as well during this phase. This new and enhanced Starship deluge system was tested on Friday.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk posted the following short video of the Starship water deluge system test on his social media platform X (formerly Twitter).

“New water deluge system to protect against the immense heat & force of Starship launch,” Elon Musk tweeted the reason for the development and testing of this new system.

This system can be called a “rocket flame deflector system” as well. It will help deflect the flames and protect OLM from getting damaged such as the one we saw after the 1st Starship orbital launch attempt.

However, the new water deluge system was tested while Booster 9 was mounted on the OLM and the engines were turned off. This system will demonstrate its reliability only when it’s used during the launch as Raptor engines ignite at their full thrust potential.

The following video that Elon Musk posted has no sound. SpaceX removed the sound probably because a very loud noise was heard during the test (video with sound by NASASpaceFlight below).

This deafening sound is not produced by the water release under the OLM, it is coming from the tank farm that releases a large amount of nitrogen during the test.

SpaceX testing the Starship OLM water deluge system at Starbase Texas on Friday 28th July 2023. Credit: Elon Musk / SpaceX / X.
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Video: SpaceX tested its deluge/flame deflector system under the Orbital Launch Mount. This is a major milestone in progressing to Starship’s 2nd Orbital Flight Test. Credit: NASASpaceFlight / YouTube.

Booster 9 Propellant Load / Cryo Test

SpaceX performed a propellant load/cryo test on Booster 9 as it was fully loaded with liquid oxygen (LOX) and nitrogen. This test determines the rocket booster’s capacity to withstand the propellant pressure before it embarks on a live mission.

In the live test recording video by NASASpaceFlight below, we see a super-cold liquid oxygen frost line appearing first at the bottom of Booster 9 and going upwards as the rocket is filled with cryogenic propellant.

In a real flight, methane is loaded with liquid oxygen — also called Methalox in short by the SpaceX community.

Interestingly, after the Booster 9 cryogenic test, a meteor was also seen at Starbase in the evening. Hint: You can find the meteor around the middle of the following video (blink and you’ll miss it).

SpaceX is performing these tests rapidly one after the other in preparation for the 2nd Starship orbital flight test. Starship 25 already went through a 6-engine static fire test in June. The next major milestone will be a Booster 9 33-engine static fire test on the road to the next Starship flight attempt.

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Iqtidar Ali
Iqtidar Ali
Iqtidar has been writing about Tesla, Elon Musk, and EVs for more than 3 years on, many of his articles have been republished on CleanTechnica and InsideEVs, maintains a healthy relationship with the Tesla community across the Social Media sphere. You can reach him on Twitter @IqtidarAlii

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