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Starship SN8 is now fully stacked at the launch pad!

Hamartia Antidote

Nov 17, 2013
United States
United States
Starship SN8 ready for final testing ahead of flight

Following a slightly convoluted engine testing campaign, Starship SN8 is set to finalize its pre-flight requirements with a triple Raptor Static Fire test on Tuesday. Should this test go to plan, the path will be cleared for SN8 to conduct a test flight to 15 km (50,000 ft) as soon as November 30.

This three-engine firing is expected to be the final major test ahead of the highly-ambitious flight, controlled “belly flop” return, and potential landing.

The first-ever triple Raptor test was conducted over a month ago, albeit shortly after SN8 had taken up residence on the launch mount. The path towards flight was always going to involve additional first-time milestones.

Starship SN8 – pre-nosecone install – conducts the first triple Raptor Static Fire. Via Mary (@bocahicagal)

Firstly, a second triple Raptor firing was added to forward planning due to an engine swap conducted after the initial test.

After that first test with Raptors SN30, SN32, and SN39, engineers then uninstalled SN39, replacing it with SN36. From that moment, an additional three-engine firing was going to be required.

However, that was added to the end of SN8’s testing milestones. The decision was taken to progress towards nosecone installation to allow for two tests (single and dual engine) utilizing the liquid oxygen, or LOX, Header Tank located at the tip of the nose.

The first Header Tank Static Fire, involving one Raptor engine, was successfully conducted, although “sparks” were noticeable immediately after ignition. The debris was initially understood to be surface material instead of a problem with the engine – the latter confirmed by the push toward the second Header Tank test without an engine swap.

The second test involved two Raptors, again kicking up a firework display from the pad surface. However, this time, some of the pad surface debris managed to damage one of the engines (SN32) – visible on the NSF Livestream as a stream of molten liquid spewing from the engine nozzle seconds after shutdown.

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