Starship SN15 performs two static fire tests within 24 hours
SpaceX’s latest and improved version of Starship, SN15, has entered the static fire phase of its testing campaign with two recent firings of its Raptor engines in the last 24 hours.
Monday saw the much-awaited first test go off without a hitch, with Elon Musk stating on Twitter that the static fire was completed and the company is preparing for a flight later this week.
However, road closures for the following Tuesday did remain in place with another round of overpressure notices delivered to local residents, and SN15 breathed to life once again in a somewhat shorter-duration test possibly involving less than all three Raptor engines.
Musk returned to Twitter to state that this was a header tank test and that all looked good.
This could mean Monday’s test was a launch static fire while Tuesday’s test was more of a landing burn static fire as the header tanks are used to supply landing propellants.
A road closure for Wednesday remained in place, although as of this writing it does not appear SpaceX used it as it was a backup for Tuesday’s test.
Two further closures have just recently been posted by the Cameron County website for Thursday from noon to 8 p.m. CDT and Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. CDT in support of the associated temporary flight restrictions currently in place for those days.
Per the filed documents they are flight opportunity closures, but without an FAA license issued yet, they and the TFRs serve more as a placeholder for those dates should approval happen by then.
The Flight Termination System which is a standard indicator for imminent flight has not been installed yet, either, along with no word of an FAA inspector presence for the flight windows.
As is usual with Starship testing, the timeline of events has become somewhat unclear moving forward. Stay tuned for more updates as they occur.
Meanwhile in between tests, progress at the Orbital Launch Site continues at breakneck speed with the launch integration tower superstructure steadily rising from the ground and two ground support equipment tanks made of repurposed Starship hardware installed.
Back at the build facility, the High Bay is unusually empty with the scrapping of pathfinder Super Heavy BN1 complete and SN16 taking shape in the nearby Mid Bay.
The blunt Starship nosecone testing structure that is believed to be a max-q simulation stand was also moved to the suborbital testing facility before Starship SN15’s static fire tests and the use of it remains to be seen.
The Starship nosecone inside, believed to be that of one of the scrapped SN12 to SN14 models, will likely be pressurized and then subjected to the simulated forces of the most stressful part of an orbital launch.
Nicholas D'Alessandro was born and raised in Southwest Florida. The seeds of his interest in Space Exploration were planted when the Shuttle's sonic boom upon re-entry would reverberate through his childhood home even across the state; the knowledge that a real life spacecraft was passing overhead and could have that effect was fascinating to him. A middle school field trip to the Kennedy Space Center cemented that fascination, and with an additional interest in the bleeding edge of automotive technology and Teslas, it was the story of Elon Musk's path to Cape Canaveral with SpaceX that finally led Nicholas to move to the Space Coast and, after joining Spaceflight Insider in 2020, begin documenting the dawning era of commercial spaceflight.