Over the weekend, SpaceX continued its test campaigns at Starbase, Texas. Booster 9 was fully filled with cryogenic liquid oxygen and liquid methane.
This is the first time since the Starship Integrated Test Fight that a booster has been fueled on the orbital launch mount. There were many questions about how long it would take for SpaceX to begin the process of testing at the launch site considering the damage that occurred during the test flight.
SpaceX made very rapid progress in the repairs and upgrades to the orbital launch mount and the area around it. One of the big questions was how did the fuel farm hold up after it was pelted with cement and left noticeable dents in the casings, but appears it didn’t suffer anything but cosmetic damage.
Propellant load tests recently completed for Starship Super Heavy Boosters 9 and 10 pic.twitter.com/2JbUnYEu5o
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) July 24, 2023
During a test a few days ago, a valve froze open and dumped a vast amount of liquid nitrogen, which has been the only major issue SpaceX has encountered since repairs began and could have happened at any time.
Also recently, SpaceX moved Booster 10 to Massey’s Test Facility for its own cryogenic proof test, partially filling the tanks. Once SpaceX completed this test, they moved the booster back to the production site, and Ship 28 was attached to a thrust simulator and moved to the Massey’s Test Facility.
It is highly likely that for the third Integrated Test Flight, which may very well be the first full orbital attempt, Ship 28 and Booster 10 will fly together.
Ship 27 was cut in half as mentioned in a prior article, however, a local photographer took photos during a flyover and noticed the common dome appeared to have imploded. It is unknown if it was simply human error and pressure being lost or if this was a design error and SpaceX is moving on from the design. It could be likely that Ship 26 will be scrapped in the near future as well.
If the fueling tests went well, SpaceX could be looking at performing a static fire test with Booster 9 in the coming days, which will be a true test for the launch mount and new water deluge system.