SpaceX moves Booster 9 back to the production site

Booster 9 static fire test (Credit SpaceX)

Following the static fire test of Booster 9, which saw the Raptor engines ignite on the Orbital Launch Mount (OLM) for the first time in months, SpaceX lifted Booster 9 off of the OLM for its trip back to the production site.

While 33 Raptor engines did ignite, 4 of them shut down early during the 2.74-second test. SpaceX does have the ability to inspect and work on Raptor engines at the launch pad, but with 4 having apparent issues during the test, they elected to move the massive booster back and make repairs or change the engines out.

This does raise a few questions about the reliability of the current version of Raptor engines. Having eight go out during the first Integrated Flight Test is one thing, but having four shut down early during a test fire after months of development and test fires at the McGregor Test Facility is another. Elon Musk has said they are working on Version 3 of Raptor, which will help with issues that are occurring on the Version 2 Raptor.

As for Booster 9’s counterpart, Ship 25, it was also moved back to the production site on August 6th, where it will continue its preparations, including finishing heatshield installation and inspections following its static fire test in June.

Ship 28 was moved back from the Masseys Test Facility after undergoing a thrust simulation test. The next step for this vehicle will be Raptor installation, followed by engine testing of its own.

Throughout all of these tests, the production site is essentially non-stop, working on future Boosters and Ships. SpaceX certainly doesn’t let anytime go wasted while they test and iterate on current and future designs on Starship.

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SpaceX moves Booster 9 back to the production site
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