After more than a year and a half of waiting, the first orbital flight of the Starship is approaching. According to the latest indications, the spacecraft with which Elon Musk plans to send astronauts to the Moon and many other humans to Mars could make its first flight in space within a few weeks. SpaceX is currently doing the final preliminary checks to prepare for this.
According to information and activity observed at SpaceX’s Starbase site in Texas, a static firing of Booster 7, a prototype of the Super Heavy launcher, could take place as early as this week. Local authorities have announced the possible closure of the highway and beach near Starbase from Wednesday through Friday as well as next Monday and Tuesday. According to The Information, the test firing is scheduled for Friday. SpaceX has not officially announced anything yet.
SpaceX is scheduled to conduct its highly-anticipated 33-engine static fire test on January 20, sources told me. That’s a major sign that Starship’s first flight test really is on the horizon. https://t.co/0tUbY5XipM
— Becky Peterson (@beckpeterson) January 12, 2023
The first orbital flight will depend on this static firing
During a static fire, the booster is moored to the ground while its engines are ignited briefly to test them and gather data on their performance in preparation for launch. SpaceX conducted booster 7 firing tests last year, but only some of the 33 engines it is supposed to use have been ignited. This new static firing would be the first to make them all roar.
If successful, SpaceX would have passed one of the last obstacles to obtain the green light from the Federal Aviation Administration for the orbital flight which could take place, according to Elon Musk, at the end of February or the beginning of March.
The Starship will be able to take off and make a brief foray into space before landing on a barge in the Pacific Ocean, off Hawaii. The Super Heavy launcher will separate from the ship shortly after launch and attempt to land on a modified drilling platform in the Gulf of Mexico.
If this test is successful, other flights should take place in 2023 to prepare the Starship for the dearMoon mission, which is to send a crew of tourists around the Moon. In the longer term, the spacecraft must participate in NASA’s Artemis program, which aims to bring astronauts back to the surface of the Moon from 2025.
CNET.com article adapted by CNETFrance