SpaceX's booster 9 performs first static fire test!

On Sunday August 7th at 3:09pm, at Starbase Texas, SpaceX's Super Heavy Booster 9 prototype roared to life for the first time as part of its first static fire test. 

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Sebastian B.

Sebastian B.

Published: 7th Aug 2023 21:40 GMT
Written by: Sebastian B.

On Sunday August 7th at 3:09pm, at Starbase Texas, SpaceX's Super Heavy Booster 9 prototype roared to life for the first time as part of its first static fire test. 

The goal of the static fire test was to ensure enough engines were healthy for a liftoff, and to test the new water-cooled steel flame deflector, designed to reduce the effect of vibrations under the pad, to prevent a repeat of the damage the pad endured during the liftoff of Starship's first integrated flight test.

SpaceX's John Insprucker hosted the SpaceX broadcast confirming the goal was to fire all 33 Raptor V2 engines for a duration of 5 seconds with a new ignition sequence. It was also confirmed that the engines would not operate at full power, as this is something that occurs after the ignition sequence in a flight. 

At 2 minutes 20 seconds into the stream, at approximately T-7 seconds, the Water cooled flame deflector began pumping water under the pad, shortly followed by ignition of the engines a few seconds later.

As the engines ignited, a large plume of steam erupted from under the pad as the water from the flame deflector was boiled by the heat and dispersed away from the pad by the massive thrust of the engines.

However, the test abruptly ended 2.5 seconds into the planned 5 second static fire. This was soon confirmed to be due to an issue with 4 engines either not igniting or prematurely shutting down, which during a real flight test would trigger an auto abort, as Starship cannot safely leave the pad with less than 30 engines.

Although this means booster 9 did not pass its static fire test, the water cooled flame deflector did a great job and appears to have been very successful, with no visible damage to the plate and a far reduced amount of paint stripped from the OLM than has been previously observed after a static fire. 

It is curently unconfirmed what caused the issue in the 4 engines and if the test will need to be performed again with replacement engines. If another test is required, you can be sure to find the latest updates here at TLP. 

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