By KREIG KOHL
Special to the PRESS
Aug. 6 saw SpaceX Starbase perform a static test fire of its first stage prototype booster, currently only referred to as Booster 9. According to a report by Mike Wall at Space.com, 29 out of the engines 33 fired for the whole test, with only four shutting down abruptly before the test was concluded. As well, the site’s orbital launch mount was not damaged during the test.
The last attempt to launch SpaceX’s Starship was made in April of 2023 and ended with the vehicle being told to self-destruct off the coast of Texas. Due to unforeseen complications of this launch event, SpaceX added a new water-deluge system to their launchpad. According to Space.com, the new system performed as expected during the test fire.
Also according to Space.com, the next test flight will be of Booster 9 on an upper stage prototype ship called Ship 25. This flight is reported to have the same goals as the April test flight; That is to travel partly around the Earth and splashdown into the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Hawaii.
Beyond the launch issues though, SpaceX is also dealing with environmental issues. According to an article published at Livescience.com, up to five environmental groups are suing the FAA to prevent SpaceX from launching at Starbase until a new year-long environmental impact study can be performed. In the lawsuit filed in May of 2023, the environmental groups stated, “The Federal Aviation Administration(FAA), which has federal authority over the launching of vehicles into space, has authorized the SpaceX Starship/Super Heavy Launch Vehicle Program at Boca Chica, Texas, without complying with bedrock federal environmental law, without fully analyzing the significant environmental and community impacts of the SpaceX launch program – including the destruction of some of the most vital migratory bird habitat in North America – and without requiring mitigation sufficient to offset those impacts.”
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