This week, SpaceX performed no less than three static fire tests on the latest prototype of the Starship, a heavy launcher designed to transport astronauts from Earth to the Moon and possibly even to Mars. But testing and development is a slow process, and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has revealed that the company needs to replace two of the prototype’s engines before moving on to its big test in which the rocket takes off.
On Wednesday, January 13, the Starship SN9 prototype was put to the test in three trials in which the rocket motors were fired but the prototype remained grounded. All three tests were successful, with Musk happily tweeting that the SpaceX team had gathered all the data they needed from the test.
The hope among SpaceX observers was that this meant the prototype would soon be ready for a high altitude jump test, in which the engines are fired and the prototype rises from the ground and into the air before returning. on earth.
However, it looks like we’ll have to wait a bit longer to see this jump test happen for the SN9. Musk said on Twitter that two of the Starship’s Raptor engines were in need of “minor repairs” and would need to be replaced with new engines before the next round of testing could take place.
Two of the engines require minor repairs and will therefore be turned off
– Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 15, 2021
Exchanging engines in the past has been a long business, taking up to several weeks. But the good news for those who wish to see SN9 fly is that Musk too. sharing that the company was making “major improvements” to the engine swap process and that the goal was for the process to take “a few hours at most”. This news means the new engines will likely need to be tested in another static fire test before the jump test can take place.
The jump test of the previous prototype, SN8, ended with a spectacular fireball when it landed hard on the ground. However, he performed his downhill maneuver on the belly flop and Musk confirmed that the team gathered all the data they needed before it was destroyed.