As SpaceX continues to wait for the green light from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for the second test flight of its mighty Super Heavy rocket, the company recently conducted a ground-based test fire of the rocket’s upper stage, called Starship.
SpaceX posted footage showing the brief test fire from directly above (bottom video), with one of the Starship’s six Raptor engines powering up for about six seconds.
The test took place at SpaceX’s facility in Boca Chica, Texas, the site of the first launch of the Super Heavy and Starship (collectively known as Starship) in April.
Despite ending in failure when the rocket exploded in midair minutes after launch, the Super Heavy became the most powerful rocket ever to fly, packing around 17 million pounds of thrust at launch, almost double that of NASA’s Space Launch System moon rocket that flew for the first time last November.
The upper stage Starship vehicle is designed for reuse and so its Raptor engines will be used for controlled deorbit burns, whether returning to Earth or setting down on another celestial body. NASA is aiming to use a modified version of the upper stage to land two astronauts on the moon, possibly as early as 2025, though clearly there’s plenty of testing that has to be completed before that date can be considered concrete.
Following April’s failed test flight, the FAA ordered SpaceX to take 63 corrective steps before the second test flight. SpaceX says it’s now ready to launch, but the FAA has yet to issue the necessary flight permit.