SpaceX shares images of Starship Booster 9 ahead of second test flight

Elon Musk recently stated SpaceX made 'well over a thousand changes' to Starship since its debut flight.
Chris Young
Booster 9 on the launch pad.
Booster 9 on the launch pad.

SpaceX / Twitter 

SpaceX continues to prepare for the second orbital launch attempt of Starship despite concerns over a potential delay caused by the ongoing environmental lawsuit against the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA).

Elon Musk's private space company, likely eager to show that preparations continue uninterrupted, has shared a number of images on Twitter of Booster 9, the Super Heavy prototype that will be used for the massive rocket's second test flight.

Booster 9 prepped for test flight

The new images, shared on 21 July, show SpaceX lifting Booster 9 onto the launch mount under a starry sky at the launch pad at its Starbase facility in South Texas.

The first image shows Booster 9 being lowered onto the orbital mount with all of its 33 Raptor engines visible. The second shows the Super Heavy prototype sitting atop the mount with its engines hidden from view.

SpaceX's first Starship test flight on 20 April ended with a massive hole in the launch pad and a dramatic rocket explosion. Still, the private space company quickly emphasized the fact that it had collected a wealth of valuable data that would help it improve its chances of reaching orbit during its second test flight.

Since then, Elon Musk announced SpaceX has made "well over a thousand" changes to Starship and that the next orbital launch attempt could take place within a matter of weeks.

Starship is the world's most powerful rocket, having surpassed NASA's Space Launch System (SLS) when it briefly took to the skies on its debut flight. SpaceX designed the massive rocket to be fully reusable in order to drastically reduce the cost of successive launches.

It's all part of Elon Musk's original plan for SpaceX of making human flight to Mars economically feasible and help to turn humanity into an interplanetary species.

Starship's second orbital launch attempt

Ahead of the second test flight, SpaceX will also likely lift Ship 25 onto Booster 9. Ship 25 is a prototype for the 165-foot-tall (50 meters) upper-stage Starship spacecraft. It was recently the subject of an explosive static fire test in preparation for launch.

If all goes to plan for the second test flight, Starship will perform roughly one orbit around Earth before splashing down in the ocean near Hawaii. However, SpaceX employs a fail fast, learn fast mantra, meaning it won't necessarily see another explosion as a failure.

SpaceX shares images of Starship Booster 9 ahead of second test flight
Booster 9 being rolled out to the launch pad.

Irrespective of that, NASA recently expressed concerns that Starship might not be ready for the Artemis III lunar landing, scheduled for 2025 or 2026, implying that the pressure will be on for a successful test flight.

Before the next test flight can happen, the FAA will have to give clearance. This may be delayed by the fact it is currently defending itself against a lawsuit put forward by an environmental group following the first launch of Starship.

The group argues the FAA didn't fully assess the impact of Starship, which subsequently went on to spread debris far and wide, potentially damaging delicate ecosystems in the area surrounding Starbase.

Add Interesting Engineering to your Google News feed.
Add Interesting Engineering to your Google News feed.
message circleSHOW COMMENT (1)chevron
Job Board