SpaceX continues to prepare its Starship Mars rocket for its first-ever orbital test flight, which may be coming soon.
During a “static fire” test today (Nov. 29) at its South Texas facility, SpaceX ignited multiple Raptor engines on Booster 7, a prototype of Starship’s first-stage Super Heavy rocket.
The static fire occurred at 2:42 PM EST (1942 GMT) and lasted 13 seconds. Video recorded by NASASpaceFlight (opens in new tab) and Rocket Ranch Boca Chica (opens in new tab) showed the test to be a powerful one, suggesting it involved a healthy proportion of Booster 7’s 33 Raptors. That turned out to be the case; shortly after the test, SpaceX confirmed via Twitter (opens in new tab) that Booster 7 ignited 11 of its engines.
Related: SpaceX’s Starship Super Heavy booster test fires record with 14 engines (video)
Wednesday’s test was the first static fire for Booster 7 since Nov. 14, when the huge vehicle ignited 14 Raptors.
Shortly after this lawsuit, SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk said the company planned to do just that one or two more static fires (opens in new tab) with Booster 7 before launching an orbital test flight—the first ever for the Starship program.
The orbital mission will likely use Booster 7 and Ship 24, a prototype of the Starship’s 165-foot-tall (50-meter) upper stage. The top stage is powered by six Raptors; Ship 24 has already ignited all her engines during a static fire on 8 September.
A successful orbital flight will make the Starship the most powerful rocket ever flown. That title is currently held by NASA’s Space Launch System megarocket, which debuted Nov. 16, launching the agency’s Artemis 1 mission.
SpaceX is developing the Starship to take people and cargo to the moon and Mars. NASA is already a customer; the agency selected the huge vehicle to make at least two manned lunar landings for its Artemis program, which aims to establish a long-term human presence on and around the moon by the end of the 2020s.
Editor’s note: This story was updated at 4:35 PM EST to state that SpaceX confirmed that 11 raptors were involved in the static fire.
Mike Wall is the author of “Out there (opens in new tab)” (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the hunt for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall (opens in new tab). Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom (opens in new tab) or on Facebook (opens in new tab).