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SpaceX conducts dress rehearsal for Starship Rocket System

SpaceX filled its Starship rocket and massive booster with extremely cold propellant stacked on top of each other for the first time, a critical test of its new launch system in space.

SpaceX filled its Starship rocket and massive booster with extremely cold propellant stacked on top of each other for the first time, a critical test of its new deep-space launch system ahead of its first orbital launch attempt.

The procedure, performed Monday at the company’s Starbase facility in Boca Chica, Texas, is known as a wet dress rehearsal and is designed to cover all the key steps engineers must complete on launch day — everything but the launch itself. .

Starship is SpaceX’s next-generation launch vehicle designed to deliver cargo and people to distant destinations such as the Moon and Mars. NASA has contracted SpaceX to develop Starship into a lander that can take the agency’s astronauts to and from the lunar surface.

SpaceX claims that more than 10 million pounds (4.5 million kilograms) of propellant was loaded into the Starship system during Monday’s test. The procedure will “help verify a full launch countdown, as well as Starship performance and orbital path for flight-like operations,” SpaceX said.

Completion of the test may pave the way for the next major milestone in Starship development: starting all 33 Raptor engines attached to the underside of the booster, called the Super Heavy, in what is known as a static fire. When that happens, it’s the first time all of the Super Heavy’s engines are activated at the same time. All 33 will have to fire in sync during the first orbital launch.

Once the static fire is complete, SpaceX will move closer to launching its Starship rocket into orbit, though the company may choose to conduct more testing ahead of a launch attempt. SpaceX also requires a launch license from the Federal Aviation Administration to perform launches from the Boca Chica facility.

Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX, has previously given many launch dates for Starship. His most recent prediction was that a launch could take place in February or March.


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