SpaceX conducts a successful six-engine static fire test on Flight 3 Starship, next test is expected after Christmas



SpaceX conducted a successful six-engine static fire test on the next orbital flight candidate Starship on Wednesday. SpaceX calls it the Flight 3 Starship. It’s actually the Starship 28 (Ship 28/S28) prototype.

This static fire test was conducted on the upper/2nd stage Starship which has a total of six Raptor engines. Out of these six engines, 3 are sea-level and 3 are vacuum-level. Earlier this year, Elon Musk hinted that Starship will have 3 more vacuum engines in the future.

SpaceX officially shared still images and drone footage of the Flight 3 Starship static fire test. The imagery of this event is stunning. The slow-motion videos and high-resolution pictures show the immensity of Starship’s engine thrust and flames.

Interestingly, this time, a series of rings of fires were seen wrapped around Starship 28 as we can witness in the following photo of the test. This is perhaps due to the water vapors evaporating from the new water deluge system as the engines fire and reflect the red/orange color around Starship.

Flight 3 Starship static fire test photo showing the flames and rings of fire around Ship 28.
Flight 3 Starship static fire test photo showing the flames and rings of fire around Ship 28. Credit: SpaceX / X (Twitter).
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Drone video of the Starship 28 six-engine static fire test held on Wednesday 20th December 2023. Credit: SpaceX / X (Twitter).

SpaceX is preparing Starship 28 and Super Heavy Booster 10 prototypes for the next orbital flight test. Since it’s going to be the 3rd orbital launch test of the Starship, SpaceX has named the mission “Flight 3”.

Starship Flight 1 and Flight 2 both ended in a rapid unscheduled disassembly (RUD). Despite this uneasy fate, both missions were declared to be a success by SpaceX. Because they provided practical experience of flying Starship and provided a ton of data points to improve hardware and software for the upcoming flights.

The Flight 3 Starship has already gone through improvements through the last few weeks. Static fire tests are a sign that the orbital launch attempt is close. However, like the last time, SpaceX might have to wait for the FAA approval to launch Starship into space.

Videos of Flight 3 Starship at Starbase, Texas.
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A top-down drone view of the Flight 3 Starship's six-engine static fire test.
A top-down drone view of the Flight 3 Starship’s six-engine static fire test. Credit: SpaceX / X (Twitter).

Next Set of Tests

Whenever SpaceX is prepared for an impactful Starship test, Cameron County issues road closure notices for Highway 4 and Boca Chica Beach. These notices are served to protect the health and safety of the residents around Starbase.

One such notice was released for expected tests on 22nd December. But this notice was taken back and another notice is now being issued for 27th December.

Since Starship has gone through the six-engine static fire test already, the next major test should be a 33-engine static fire test of its 1st stage rocket i.e. Super Heavy Booster 10 like it was performed on Booster 9. However, SpaceX might want to repeat the 6-engine static fire test on Starship 28. So, we will have to wait for this test after Christmas.

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Stay tuned for future updates on Starship and SpaceX, Follow us on:
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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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