SpaceX Fires New Super Heavy Booster

On August 25th, SpaceX performed a firing test of the Super Heavy booster with serial number B9. It will be involved in the next launch attempt of the Starship spacecraft.

The Most Powerful Rocket in History

The Super Heavy booster is the largest and most powerful rocket stage in history. It has a length of 70 meters and a diameter of 9 meters. The booster is equipped with 33 Raptor engines that run on liquid methane and oxygen. Its tanks can hold 3,600 tons of fuel (the dry mass of the stage itself is about 200 tons).
Stages of Super Heavy. Source: SpaceX

Currently, the Super Heavy was used in a single test flight, which took place last April. During that launch and subsequent ascent, several engines shut down, which was one of the reasons Starship failed to reach orbit. Additionally, SpaceX underestimated the force of the Super Heavy engines’ impact on the launch pad, resulting in significant damage.

Over the following months, the company’s experts repaired the launch pad and equipped it with a water cooling system. The next step was the firing tests of the new Super Heavy prototype, which will be involved in the upcoming Starship test.

Super Heavy Firing

The first Super Heavy firing took place on August 6th. It was supposed to last for 5 seconds, but in reality, it was stopped after 2.7 seconds due to the premature shutdown of four engines.

SpaceX did not consider this result satisfactory and prepared the Super Heavy for another firing. This took place on August 25th and this time lasted as long as planned. However, again, there were setbacks with two Raptor engines shutting down prematurely.

If SpaceX finds the current results satisfactory, it means the company has removed one of the last technical blocks on the path to the next orbital test of Starship. The main question now is about obtaining permission from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Recently, SpaceX submitted a report to the organization on the investigation into the causes of the Starship accident that occurred during its first orbital test. The FAA has to approve it having assessed if the company implemented necessary changes. According to experts, this could take several weeks at least.