Enlarge / A view into the maw of SN4, showing a single Raptor engine mounted inside.SpaceX

For the first-time, a full-scale prototype of SpaceX's Starship vehicle lit its engine on Tuesday evening. After ignition, it appeared that the Raptor rocket engine burned for about 4 seconds. At the end of this test at the South Texas Launch Site, the vehicle still stood. About 90 minutes after the test, SpaceX founder and chief engineer Elon Musk confirmed the test firing was good, saying, "Starship SN4 passed static fire."

Tuesday night's test, which took place at 8:57pm CT local time in Texas (01:57 UTC Wednesday), occurred eight days after a successful pressurization test of this Starship prototype, known as SN4. Engineers will now review the data before possibly performing another static fire test, or a small hop. Ultimately, if this vehicle survives additional testing, it may make a 150-meter hop above the scrubby Texas lowlands.

This test also took place less than a week after NASA awarded SpaceX a $135 million contract to develop Starship as a Lunar Lander—a vehicle for carrying cargo and crew from lunar orbit down to the surface, and back. Although Starship is the most ambitious of three landers NASA is considering as part of its Artemis Program, it is also the only one actively testing full-scale prototypes.


First time a Raptor has fired up on a SpaceX Starship. They'll be reviewing, so let's hope the data shows it was a good test!

LIVE: https://t.co/aWoB55kubG

Clip: pic.twitter.com/y2yLVxtwok

— Chris B – NSF (@NASASpaceflight) May 6, 2020

Last August SpaceX flew a stubby vehicle dubbed Starhopper with a single Raptor engine. The goal of this vehicle was to test basic plumbing for the Raptor engine, and to see if its flight could be controlled for a safe ascent and descent. Although the Starhopper made a hard landing, it survived this test, and SpaceX moved on to build full-scale prototype of Starship.

Since November 2019, the company has lost three full-scale Starship prototypes during cryogenic and pressure tests. The most recent failure came on April 3. SN4 is the first vehicle to survive preRead More – Source

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