Finally, the fifth prototype of the Spacehip SpaceX successfully started its lone Raptor engine in a test known as static fire, paving the way for the first full-scale Starship flight this weekend.
After nearly three weeks of delay and several interrupted attempts, SpaceX was able to fix various relatively small hardware bugs described by CEO Elon Musk on July 28th. The first static fire attempt was originally planned for July 10 and gradually slipped away for several days at a time until July 25. Thus began another series of delays after static fire attempts – with different progress from each – were interrupted on July 25, 27 (x2) and on the morning of the 30th.
Fortunately, although these abortions and scrubs and delays are finally over ̵
Before the successful static fire of Starship SN5 on July 30, Musk revealed on Twitter that the second rocket attempt was interrupted on July 27 after Hurricane Hannah damaged a clutch allegedly connected to telemetry and control. SpaceX fixed the problem and managed to stretch its test window by several hours, allowing a second attempt later that evening.
Unfortunately, the starship’s static fire was again worn out by what Musk later described as a key fuel valve that failed to open, as well as “some strange [behavior]Observed in a pump connected to the Raptor engine hardware. To complete the static fire, as SpaceX would later two days later, the fine “fuel rotation pump” had to be completely fixed, but problems with the Raptor vector control pump (TVC) could be ruled out.
Given that SpaceX spent about 2.5 days inspecting and repairing Starship after the third static fire ceased, they probably had time to fix any bugs that hit the Raptor TVC’s hydraulic system. Nevertheless, Raptor’s TVC will have to work flawlessly before SpaceX can continue with the first full-scale Starship test. The 150m jump (~ 500 feet) will be the first prototype of a Starship of approximately the same size – and built of the same materials – as an orbital class ship will attempt to control flight.
Prior to the static fire on July 30, SpaceX had already imposed several temporary flight restrictions (TFRs) – used to warn aviators of leakage zones – with the FAA for hop test attempts on August 2 and 3. It will probably take SpaceX 12-24 hours to analyze the data, check the Starship and determine the timeline for the first jump attempt, but there is at least a slight chance that the company will push Starship SN5 to take off as early as this Sunday. Keep adjusting until things play out and the hop test gets a more specific date.
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