SpaceX conducts static test fire of Starship Super Heavy Booster

SpaceX fired up its Starship Super Heavy Booster 9 for a static test of its liquid methane-fueled Raptor rocket engines. The test was advertised to last “just under five seconds” but appeared to be cut short at 2.74 seconds. Four of the 33 Raptor engines were reported to have shut down prematurely.

It was also the first engine test using a new water deluge system installed at the launch pad following the first Integrated Test Flight for the Starship vehicle on April 20. The test flight, which ended in a fiery, high-altitude explosion over the Gulf of Mexico, also caused extensive damage to the towering rocket’s Starbase launch facility at Boca Chica, Texas. The rocket’s exhaust ripped up the concrete base of the launch mount, sending blocks of concrete flying and excavating a large hole. SpaceX has added a giant water-cooled metal plate under the launch pad pedestal to protect the structure.

Starship Super Heavy Booster 9 ignites its Raptor engines for a static test fire. Image: SpaceX.