SpaceX completes Starship rocket test in preparation for first orbital launch

Spacecraft prototype 24 stacked on top of the Super Heavy 7 booster prototype at the company’s facility near Brownsville, Texas on January 9, 2023.

SpaceX

SpaceX announced on Monday that it has completed a major test of its latest prototype spacecraft, as the company prepares for the towering rocket’s first orbital launch.

The prototype spacecraft 24, stacked on top of the prototype Super Heavy 7 booster, was fueled at SpaceX’s Starbase facility in Texas in a test known as a “wet-suited rehearsal.” Although the test does not include firing the rocket engines, it is typical practice when developing a new liquid-fueled vehicle to show that it can be safely filled before a launch, as well than checking the steps of a launch countdown.

“This was the first time an integrated ship and thruster was fully loaded with over 10 million pounds of propellant,” SpaceX said in a tweet.

Starship is a nearly 400-foot-tall rocket designed to transport goods and people beyond Earth. It’s also key to NASA’s plan to return astronauts to the moon, with SpaceX winning a nearly $3 billion contract from the agency in 2021.

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A Starship orbital launch attempt marks the next stage of the rocket’s flight testing. It’s been nearly two years since the company last flight-tested Starship, and Late last year, SpaceX reversed the direction of its “Starbase” facility in Texas as the company strives to launch the next launch.

SpaceX still has a few steps to go before the next Starship launch, including a planned test-firing of the 33 engines at the base of the Super Heavy rocket booster. The company also needs a launch license from the Federal Aviation Administration.

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