SpaceX is not rushing to put its Starship rocket into orbit. This historic orbital test flight will likely involve Booster 7 and Ship 24, prototype vehicles that were stacked atop the orbital launch pad at Starbase, SpaceX’s South Texas facility, last week.
Elon Musk’s space company has already carried out several tests on Booster 7 and Ship 24, but more is expected from the Starship duo before they can fly.
“We are proceeding very cautiously. If there is a RUD* in the block, the ship’s progress will be delayed by approximately six months,” Elon Musk tweeted on Sunday.
SpaceX has already conducted brief “static fire” tests with Ship 24 and Booster 7, igniting their Raptor engines while keeping the vehicles grounded. The company ignited all six Raptors of Ship 24 simultaneously.
But Booster 7’s static fire only engaged a handful of the vehicle’s 33 Raptors at a time. And none of its ignitions happened while ship 24 was on it.
The next few weeks will likely see a variety of tests featuring the full stack of Starships. The fuel tests will pave the way for increasingly ambitious static fires, which will likely result in the full firing of 33 Booster 7 engines.
The next orbital test flight will send spacecraft 24 around Earth once, ending with a crash on the Hawaiian island of Kauai (Booster 7 will crash shortly after liftoff, making its own waves in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Texas).
Elon Musk said he was confident the mission could be launched as early as next month. But SpaceX isn’t on such an “aggressive” schedule, as Sunday’s tweet makes clear.
*RUD is short for “Unscheduled Rapid Dismount” or “Unscheduled Rapid Dismount”.
Featured Image: Disclosure/SpaceX
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