SpaceX continues to gear up for the first-ever orbital test flight of its Starship Mars rocket.
SpaceX performed another “static fire” test today (Dec. 15) at its South Texas facility, lighting up Ship 24, a prototype of Starship’s 165-foot-tall (50 meters) upper-stage spacecraft.
One of Ship 24’s six Raptor engines ignited at 2:01 p.m. EST (1901 GMT; 1:01 p.m. local Texas time), firing for about seven seconds while the vehicle remained anchored to the ground. The brief test was captured on video by NASASpaceFlight (opens in new tab) and Rocket Ranch Boca Chica (opens in new tab).
Related: SpaceX’s Starship Super Heavy booster test-fires record 14 engines (video)
Ship 24 completes a single-engine static fire test at Starbase in Texas pic.twitter.com/gF9beLcarXDecember 15, 2022
Ship 24 will fly on the Starship program’s first orbital test flight, which SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk has said could lift off in the next few months. The prototype has already been through a static-fire gamut; it lit up all six of its Raptors in September, for example.
Ship 24 will lift off atop Booster 7, a prototype of Starship’s massive Super Heavy first stage. SpaceX has been putting Booster 7 through its paces as well. On Nov. 29, for instance, the giant rocket lit up 11 of its 33 Raptors. Fifteen days before that, the booster performed a 14-engine static fire.
SpaceX is developing the fully reusable Starship to take people and cargo to the moon and Mars, and to fly a variety of other missions closer to home. For example, SpaceX plans to launch the majority of its next-generation Starlink internet satellites using Starship, Musk has said.
SpaceX has already lined up some customers for Starship lunar flights. NASA picked the vehicle to be the first crewed lander for its Artemis moon program, and Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa booked a Starship mission around the moon that will carry a handful of artists and influencers, including “Everyday Astronaut” Tim Dodd.
Mike Wall is the author of “Out There (opens in new tab)” (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search 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).