SpaceX is currently tracking towards the first Raptor engine static fire of its fifth full-scale Starship prototype sometime later today, although there is a strong chance of more delays.
Originally scheduled as early as July 8th, Starship SN5’s first static fire test – a crucial precursor to more ambitious plans – has slipped almost three weeks for unknown reasons. Like all rockets, Starship, its Raptor engine, and the launch pad are all extremely complex systems, so delays are to be expected, but SN5’s delays have been much worse than anything experience by its predecessors.
Regardless, at long last, it appears that there’s at least a chance that Starship SN5 will be able to put its Raptor engine to use in preparation for an even more exciting milestone.
As previously discussed on Teslarati, a large portion of those delays can likely be explained by the fact that SpaceX had to extensively repair and rebuild much of the pad’s complex ground support equipment (GSE). Needed to power, control, fuel, and pressurize Starship prototypes, SpaceX’s Boca Chica launch pad GSE was heavily damaged when operator error caused a gas leak that exploded shortly after Starship SN4’s fourth successful static fire.
As such, much like Starship SN4’s explosion was largely unrelated to the rocket itself, SN5’s weeks of delays may be primarily the result of working out kinks in the launch pad’s recently repaired (and possibly upgraded) GSE. Still, Starship itself appears to have contributed a bit. Notably, last week, at least one or two attempted tests were aborted before anything notable happened. Hurricane Hanna briefly interrupted operations on Saturday and Sunday, but SpaceX restarted testing today on Monday, July 27th.
Starship SN5’s static fire window opened at 8 am CDT (13:00 UTC) but teams continued to work on and around the rocket for several hours. A mobile lift finally lowered technicians that were working on the top of Starship – possibly hinting at issues with the vehicle’s communications and/or GPS antennas – around 1:45 pm CDT. The test window is open until 8 pm CDT (01:00 UTC), so SpaceX does have some flexibility and could likely wait as late as 6 pm CDT to start fueling Starship SN5.
Either way, NASASpaceflight will be hosting an unofficial livestream for at least as long as it appears that SpaceX is still trying to test SN5, while LabPadre’s 24/7 stream will continue to offer a more or less uninterrupted view of the rocket.
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