SpaceX is on the verge of a historic launch of the Starship launch system, Gwen Shotwell, president and chief operations infrastructure officer of the investigation, said on Wednesday. The company will fire all 33 Raptor 2 engines at once, during which SpaceX will conduct a full “static fire” test of the Super Heavy booster.. If the test doesn’t turn up any major issues, SpaceX could attempt the first orbital launch of Starship as early as next month.
The news comes just two weeks after the wet dress practice for Starship. Wet dress refers to a critical series of prelaunch tests that involve loading both the upper stage and booster with propellant and running through a countdown lasting approximately T-10 seconds. The static fire test is the last man milestone the company needs to hit before Starship can fly — well, that and a launch license from the US Navy. Federal Shipping Administration, which has yet to be awarded.
According to SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk, and echoed in Shotwell’s remarks today, orbital flight testing will be only the beginning. Musk is known for his ambitions to expand human civilization through the solar system, and Shotwell tentatively predicted the company could land people on Mars around 2030. to install people.
That’s a tall order, considering that SpaceX is contracted to land humans on the Moon at some point before the end of the decade, using a modified Starship landing system. NASA later expanded that contract, which was worth $2.9 billion, to $1.15 billion for the second crewed Starship mission. Both missions are part of the institution’s Artemis program. Private customers have also booked Starship flights, including Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa.
SpaceX’s ultimate goal is to build a Starship rocket every day — an ambition that’s built into its design, he said.
Shotwell’s explanation came during a fireside chat at the Federal Aviation Administration Commercial Space Transportation Conference. They also discussed SpaceX’s Starlink Internet broadband business, which made news last year for its role in supporting Ukrainian troops during that country’s war with Russia. Whatever important role Starlink may have played, Shotwell said the service was not intended to be used as a weapon. The service is still an important part of Ukraine’s war effort; In late January, Musk said that Starlink “has become the connectivity backbone of Ukraine to the front line.”
SpaceX Starship ready for the static-fire test says, Shotwell
WASHINGTON – SpaceX will attempt a steady-fire test of all 33 engines in its Starship booster as soon as February. 9, a test that could allow the company to try an orbital launch a month later.
Speaking at the Federal Aviation Administration Commercial Space Transportation Conference on February 8, SpaceX President and Chief Operating Officer Gwynne Shotwell announced the upcoming test, the last major technical milestone before the vehicle’s first orbital launch attempt.
“Tomorrow is a huge day for SpaceX. We’re going to attempt a 33-engine static fire booster test for Starship,” he said. “This is really the last ground test we can do before we light up and go.”
The company had been hinting that testing had been coming for some time, Bill Gerstenmaier, SpaceX’s vice president for manufacturing and flight reliability, said in a conference call on January 27 that the investigation could take place next week, although he gave details still a lot of work ahead of us to get there and it’s not going to be easy.” “
A successful test, she said, could set the company up for that orbital launch effort sooner. “That first flight test is going to be really exciting.” it’s going to be next month
The static-fire test will be the first time all 33 Raptor engines in the Super Heavy Booster will be fired for the first time. A booster has had as many as 14 engine fires at a time, resulting in some damage to the pads.
Shotwell told reporters after his talk that he believes the changes the company has made will prevent pad damage from a more powerful test to come, “The pad will have similar problems during a 14-engine stationary fire,” I hope not. “We’ve done some work on the pad.” He did not elaborate on the changes.
An orbital flight test would require an FAA launch license that is still pending, including at least some of the mitigations identified by the FAA in an environmental review published in June for the Starship launch from SpaceX’s Boca Chica, Texas, test site. involves implementation.
“We’ve been working on all the vulnerabilities since we got it,” he said about the environmental review, including working with state and federal agencies. We’ll be ready to fly in the time frame for getting the license, for the license,” I think
Starship is essential to SpaceX’s long-term plans, from deploying the second generation of its Starlink constellation to landing NASA astronauts on the Moon as part of the agency’s Artemis lunar exploration mission. It is also designed to have a very high production and flight rate, a point Shotwell emphasized in his presentation.
“We’ve got to keep the starship in as plane a shape as we can get if we’re talking about dozens of launches a day, if not hundreds of launches a day.”
She said she expects Starship to fly at least 100 times before carrying people for the first time, a challenge as the company prepares a lunar lander version of StarshipCurrently scheduled for 2025, for NASA’s Artemis 3 mission, up to is determined.
In his subsequent conversation with reporters, he called that 100-flight milestone a “noble goal” but suggested it was not a requirement. “I would love to do hundreds first. I think that would be a good target and it is very possible that we can do it.
He said the company aims to launch 100 Falcons this year. “If we can do 100 flights of Falcon this year, I’d love to be able to do 100 flights of Starship next year. I don’t think we’ll be able to do 100 flights of Starship next year, but maybe in 2025 we’ll be able to do 100 flights.” Will find.”
First, she said, SpaceX needs to get Starship into orbit as quickly as possible. We’ll do more test flights,” we’ll learn from the test flight, and “the real goal is not to blow up the launch pad’s a success.”