SpaceX conducts another static fire of Ship 29

Ship 29 conducts a single engine static fire (Credit SpaceX)

Ship 29 roared to life once again yesterday afternoon at Starbase, moving another step forward to the fourth flight test for SpaceX.

SpaceX lit a single Raptor engine at 1:30 pm CT, this time fueling the powerful rocket motor using the header tank located near the top of the spacecraft.

This follows a similar path SpaceX took with Ship 28. When the company completed that test, they said it was to simulate the de-orbit burn of the spacecraft even though with current test flight trajectories, the rocket is sub-orbital.

Now that this test is complete, SpaceX will move Ship 29 back to the production site to finish its final preparations ahead of flight in roughly a couple of months. During the last 2 static fires, the ship lost just a few heat shield tiles that will be replaced. The tile system as a whole performed better than previous ships and only a handful of tiles were lost. The SpaceX team will also perform checkouts of the entire system, including the 6 Raptor engines.

With the launch site free, the company will now move Booster 11 from the production site to the orbital launch mount and begin the prelaunch test campaign, which would culminate in at least one static fire of all 33 Raptor engines.

Booster 11’s campaign will follow roughly the same path as Ship 29. SpaceX will likely load the booster with fuel and perform a spin prime test, which involves rapidly flowing super-chilled liquid oxygen through the engines to simulate ignition, and then after verifying the data from the test is good, they will perform the static fire test.

When the massive boosters conduct their static fire tests, they keep the engines at around 50 percent power so as not to cause any unnecessary damage to the launch pad, even though SpaceX has now completed 2 launches with all 33 engines ramping up to full power prior to lift-off without any damage thanks to the powerful water suppression system that was installed following the first integrated flight test.

Once the static fire test campaign is complete, SpaceX will move Booster 11 back to the production site for final checkouts. Then, both the booster and ship will be moved to the launch site to be stacked for a wet dress rehearsal and eventual launch, which could come as soon as May.

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SpaceX conducts another static fire of Ship 29
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