Elon Musk‘s space company is preparing for the next flight of the Starship spacecraft. SpaceX recently conducted an engine test at Starbase in South Texas with Ship25, the latest assembled prototype of the upper stage that will fly in the upcoming test mission.
First test on Ship25:
“Ship 25 completed a flight-like cooling and engine Raptor pump rotation, stopping just before the engine ignition. As a result of the test, cryogenic liquid oxygen formed a visible cloud under the ship. This verified the vital systems before the imminent static fire” SpaceX wrote in a post on Twitter. Static fires are common pre-launch tests in which the engines are briefly ignited while the vehicle remains anchored to the ground.
The Starship, the largest and most powerful rocket ever built, consists of two elements. An enormous booster, the first stage called Super Heavy, and an upper-level spacecraft, the second stage, 50 meters tall, known as Starship. Both vehicles are designed to be fully and rapidly reusable. At the same time, they are both powered by the new generation Raptor engines, 6 for Starship and 33 for Super Heavy.
The fully stacked spacecraft has flown only once, in a test flight on April 20th from the Starbase, which aimed to send the Ship24 prototype on a trip around the Earth, with a targeted splashdown near Hawaii.
Next Starship launch
However, this did not happen. The spacecraft achieved two important milestones that day. But the two stages failed to separate as expected, and SpaceX ordered a self-destruction a few minutes after liftoff.
The imminent second test flight, which will include Ship25 and a Super Heavy prototype called Booster 9, will have similar objectives to the first one, Elon Musk stated. SpaceX plans to launch the next mission soon, possibly within six to eight weeks, provided that Ship25 and Booster 9 pass all test and regulatory obstacles.