Immense power of SpaceX‘s Booster 9, also known as Super Heavy, has once again been showcased to the world in the newly released photos of a recent static fire. The test, conducted on Sunday, August 6th, briefly ignited the 33 Raptors engines of Booster 9 at the company’s Starbase site in southern Texas.
Another Static Fire
Four of the Raptors shut down prematurely, SpaceX announced during a test webcast. However, the results were still impressive, as shown in the new photos. Images, which SpaceX published (ref.) on Tuesday, August 8th, capture the static fire from multiple angles.
The photo below captures Booster 9 from top to bottom from a considerable height, displaying orange flames at the base of the rocket. The grid-like fin structures in the foreground are designed to stabilize the vehicle during reentry to Earth. Another shot provides a close-up of the flames emanating from the Raptors.
Sunday’s static fire was part of the preparation for the launch of Booster 9, which is expected to conduct a test flight in the relatively near future. If all goes according to plan, the vehicle will launch a Starship prototype. The upper stage for this test is expected to be Ship 25, which will land in the Pacific Ocean near Hawaii.
Timing of the Next Launch
This is the same basic flight plan as the first and only launch of a fully stacked Starship vehicle to date, which occurred on April 20th. However, that mission ended earlier than anticipated. The two stages of Starship failed to separate, and SpaceX sent a self-destruct command, destroying the vehicle four minutes after liftoff.
SpaceX’s founder and CEO, Elon Musk, stated that the Booster 9-Ship 25 flight could take place in the coming weeks, but the timing is unclear. Part of the uncertainty is logistical. A coalition of environmental groups is currently suing the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which grants launch licenses. They argue that the U.S. agency has not properly assessed the launche’ damage could cause to the ecosystem and the community in southern Texas.