Both Booster 7 and Ship 24 were static fired for the first time this week as a second Starbase surge appeared to begin. Over in Florida, the completion of the orbital launch tower grows ever closer.
Following a spin prime and several cryogenic proof tests previously, Booster 7 underwent 2 single engine spin primes earlier in the week in an effort to test the vehicle following its explosion one month ago. A spin prime test is where the rocket’s LOX (liquid oxygen) pump is spun at nominal speeds, and LOX is run through the engines. This was done to ensure these systems were working as expected before static fire testing and beyond. The tests appeared nominal, paving the way for future testing later in the week.
As Booster 7 underwent 2 spin primes on Monday evening, so did Ship 24 as it continued its test campaign. These were 2 six engine spin primes and therefore included all engines on the Ship. They were a success, and as of Monday evening, Ship 24 had now undergone 3 cryogenic proof and 7 spin prime tests. Static fire testing appeared to be imminent.
As a last-minute overpressure notice was sent to local residents on Tuesday, this indicated a static fire test was to be expected of Booster 7 or Ship 24. Booster 7 went first with a single engine static fire test and then followed Ship 24 with a dual engine static fire. Both appeared to be a success, marking a significant moment for Starship’s development in 2022. Before these tests, no static fire at Starbase had even occurred this year, and this was the first static fire to take place from the orbital launch mount. For an orbital test flight to occur this year, these tests are vital.
Two days after Booster 7’s inaugural static fire test, Elon Musk said SpaceX was to ‘attempt long duration engine firing to test autogenous pressurization. The test appeared to be nominal, lasting for 20 seconds. Following the week’s testing of Booster 7’s outer engines, the vehicle’s return to the production site looked set. The SPMTs were on their way to the launch site, the LR11000 crane was moved and the load spreader attached to Booster 7 before the lift occurred. The super heavy booster was then rolled back the production site and into the megabay. Its center engines are to be installed in the coming days, if they are not already.
Elsewhere at Starbase, Ship 25 remains in the high bay and is yet to be fully stacked. Ships 26 to 29 are also at different stages of production as a conveyor belt of vehicles continue to be produced.
Focusing on super heavy development, Booster 8 remains fully stacked in the megabay whilst being accompanied by its next iteration, Booster 9, which is currently being assembled. Booster 10 and 11 are also in production.
Over in Florida, the sixth segment for the orbital launch tower at LC-39A was rolled out before being lifted into place atop the previous segment. While segment seven is prepared for its own roll, eight is still in preparation for the same operation. This takes place as construction has begun on the ninth segment. This section will hold the pulleys and mechanisms needed for the chopsticks and is the final section required before a cap segment will be placed on top.
Amongst other work down at the Cape, the chopsticks continue to be assembled at Roberts Road, megabay concrete foundations are in place, and Starfactory construction continues.