Update: For unknown reasons, SpaceX seems to have planned a second three-raptor static shooting for the interstellar spacecraft SN9.
As with the previous road closure window, SpaceX will have the opportunity to test the Starship SN9 from 8 am to 5 pm CST (UTC-6) on Friday, January 8, which may pave the way for a high-altitude launch attempt early next week. The second static fire proceeded as planned. Please stay tuned for updates!
In the final step before SpaceX’s next high-altitude “Starship” launch attempt, the company appears to have successfully put the “Starship” serial number 9 (SN9) into service through its first three-raptor static shooting test.
Relatively late to the test window that opened at 8 am CST (UTC-6) but was later pushed to noon, SpaceX’s first Starship SN9 static shooting attempt started in earnest around 3:15 pm CST. Exhaust activities at the propellant field responsible for the preparation and loading of liquid oxygen and methane on the interstellar spacecraft showed that minor adjustments were observed during the test process, but a static fire was expected to occur more or less at 4:07 pm.
The SN9 ignited all three Raptors in rapid succession and shut down the engines within 1.5-2 seconds-compared to all previous nominal Starhopper or Raptor static fires installed on starships, this is very short. Long-term followers immediately noticed the slight difference, speculating that it may be aborted after ignition, or it may have been deliberately shortened to avoid damaging the concrete surface of the pad (which occurred many times in recent tests).
Shortly before the short static fire, SpaceX extended the end of its January 6 test window (in the form of a road closure notice) from 5 pm to 8 pm. Strangely, SpaceX did not dismantle the interstellar spacecraft and reopen the roads after completing the successful test as expected, but basically recovered SN9 and started a separate test at around 6 pm. The road to testing has never been opened, and the SpaceX team has never looked back between tests, suggesting that the company may have encountered minor hardware or software bugs earlier in the day.
It is not yet clear what the actual goal of the second attempt was, and after being confirmed by CEO Elon Musk, it is more or less impossible to know exactly. It is possible (if unlikely) that the first electrostatic shooting was carried out as planned, and the subsequent test should have been a simple data collection wet clothes exercise (WDR). Either way, after a sudden downpour briefly engulfed the Starship SN9 9 minutes ago, the second test appeared to be terminated during the propellant adjustment and loading process for approximately 30 minutes, thus ruling out the full WDR and /Or static firepower.
According to the test notification received by NASA Spaceflight contributor and photographer Mary (bocachicagal) on January 6, SpaceX will provide another test window on January 7 if the test part fails on Wednesday. In rare cases, SpaceX will issue a manual distribution warning to residents before proceeding with any planned road closures. The last closure was lifted on January 6.
On January 5, SpaceX received three Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFR) from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which will restrict the company’s access to high-altitude starship launch attempts on January 8, 9 and 10. Permission of nearby airspace. Lacking a clear and successful static shooting ability, Starship is very likely (but not impossible) to be ready to launch an attempt in any of these three windows. However, it is safe to say that SN9 may be less than a week away from its first flight. If SpaceX can complete a full-time static fire in space, it is expected to be a copy of SN8’s 12.5 km (7.8 miles) launch and landing attempt. The next day or the next day.