SpaceX successfully fires 31 of 33 Raptor engines on Starship booster ahead of first orbital test flight

SpaceX conducted a test firing of 33 Raptor engines on its Starship booster in Boca Chica, Texas on Thursday. Even though it was only a static fire and there was no launch, it was still the most powerful rocket ignition in history.

Moments after the test SpaceX tweeted “Full duration,” indicating the engines fired for as long as they should have. However a little while later Elon Musk followed up with another tweet to say only 31 of the engines actually fired. According to Musk 1 of the engines was turned off by SpaceX “just before” the ignition, while another “stopped itself.”

Musk noted however that even though 30 of the 33 engines fired, it still would have been enough thrust (approximately 17.5 million lbs) to launch Starship into orbit.

Orbit is the next big milestone for SpaceX and Starship. The company has been working for years towards the first orbital test flight. Based on a flight plan submitted in 2021 Starship would launch from Texas, orbit most of the way around the world, and land in the ocean of the coast of Hawaii.

In response to a tweet from Drive Tesla last week Musk said that if the remaining tests go well that test flight could take place next month. With Thursday’s successful test, there is a good chance that timeline could be met. Although Musk emphasized that it will be an attempt, saying “Success is far from certain, but excitement is guaranteed.”

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