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Stacked Starship and Superheavy complete first full wet dress rehearsal countdown

SpaceX yesterday successfully completed a full wet dress rehearsal countdown of its stacked Starship prototype #24 and Superheavy prototype #7, fueling both completely and taking the countdown down to T-0.

On this rehearsal however the Superheavy engines were not fired. From two SpaceX tweets:

Starship completed its first full flight-like wet dress rehearsal at Starbase today. This was the first time an integrated Ship and Booster were fully loaded with more than 10 million pounds of propellant

Today’s test will help verify a full launch countdown sequence, as well as the performance of Starship and the orbital pad for flight-like operations

Next step: Another full wet dress rehearsal countdown that includes a short static fire test of all 33 Superheavy Raptor-2 engines. Once that is done successfully, the company will be ready for that first orbital launch.

Meanwhile, SpaceX awaits its launch license from the FAA. I remain pessimistic that it will be issued on a timely manner, as there are clear signs the Biden administration wants to use its power against Musk, whom it now sees as an enemy.

Conscious Choice cover

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Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
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16 comments

  • Richard M

    Interestingly, there’s now considerable evidence that SpaceX is planning to install a full water deluge system at the Starbase orbital pad (See the new videos from NSF and Zack Golden); what remains unclear is whether they will do so *before* the 33 engine static fire, or after.

    If it’s before, that might push the test fire back a couple weeks. But then, it is posible they need that time for other preparations anyway?

  • Richard M: I suspect they will have that spare time as they wait for the FAA to approve the launch license.

  • David Eastman

    Yesterday after the WDR the rumor was that the 33 engine static fire was about two weeks out for additional work on the pad, but this morning that same source is saying “nope, plans change, not that far out.” So possibly next week. The real push for the launch license won’t even start until after the static fire, then we’ll see if the FAA is going to do their job in a timely fashion, drag their feet, or be actively hostile.

    Launch attempt in Q1 23 no longer seems likely, I believe SpaceX is still hoping for March but expecting April.

  • Richard M

    Hello Robert,

    David makes a good point here: “The real push for the launch license won’t even start until after the static fire.” SpaceX can’t file the application until they have all the data from a full static fire. This could be an additional reason for moving as quickly as possible on a static fire (assuming all the hardware is otherwise ready).

    But I have heard the same rumor: they really do seem to want to do the static fire on an accelerated schedule, possibly within the week. If this is true, then the deluge system may be be installed after the static fire, but before the launch attempt.

    How much will the FAA hold things up? As I have said before, the one thing SpaceX has going in its favor is that it actually has some bureaucracies on its side, finally. NASA, the USSF, and NRO all have keen interest in making use of Starship; NASA’s human spaceflight program is basically staked on it. One wonders what pressure they can bring to bear.

  • As always, I hope my pessimism about the corruption of our government is wrong. However, in my life I have found such pessimism routinely confirmed, so we must keep that in mind.

    And yes, by becoming customers instead of builders, agencies like NASA, the Space Force, and the NRO have become dependent of private companies like SpaceX. It will thus be in their interest to push the Biden administration to approve the launch license.

  • Andi

    Very minor edit in last sentence: “whom it now sees…”

  • James Street

    Elon Musk never released the promised Twitter “Fauci Files” a couple weeks ago. Maybe he’s negotiating a deal.

  • Diane E Wilson

    There was a water deluge at the end of the WDR. Whether it is the final version, and whether it is capable of handling the full 33-engine static fire, is unknown.

  • Andi: Ah, the endless conflict between “who” and “whom.” :) Fixed. Thank you.

  • Richard M

    Hi Diane,

    I think what you’re thinking of is the Orbital Launch Mount’s detonation suppression system. It’s not actually a water deluge system – nowhere near enough water volume or pressure.

    The deluge system they appear to be gearing up for seems to be something very similar to what they have recently installed on the LC-39A OLM, which is installed underground around the OLM, and entails very large water tank systems.

  • sippin_bourbon

    I saw something, tho I cannot find it now, stating SS would be unstacked from SH before the static fire.
    I am assuming that is to protect it, just in case of “foom, boom, and bang”.

    But I also heard that they will need a lot of restraints for all 33 engines.

  • Richard M

    I saw something, tho I cannot find it now, stating SS would be unstacked from SH before the static fire.

    They just did it this afternoon!

  • Ray Van Dune

    I worry about the 33-engine static fire. At a thrust / weight ratio of 1.5, the real full stack will clear the tower in about 8 seconds or less, according to the scratching on the back of my envelope.

    Optimistically, pad-damaging thrust levels should decline before that, say after 5 seconds, SWAG.

    If held hard down on the launch ring for for a minimally-relevent 5 seconds or so, Superheavy could do a lot of damage, not the least to itself!

  • David Eastman

    Damage to the pad has been an obvious issue since some of the early test fires. SpaceX has since put in an enormous amount of work on deluge systems, deflectors, steel blast barriers, etc. Presumably they believe they have it handled, or at least mostly so. Also remember that the Raptor is a deep throttling engine. The static fire will almost certainly not hold full thrust on all engines for long, if at all.

  • Jeff Wright

    Mr. Z “As always, I hope my pessimism about the corruption of our government is wrong.”

    Something you can take to the bank—each SLS core your see–WILL fly–not just be the latest addition to the rocket garden like Starship 24

    https://twitter.com/thejackbeyer/status/1618662902516576256?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1618662902516576256%7Ctwgr%5Ee85df06c6bb5d283573d849a9cae3bb34826b506%7Ctwcon%5Es1_&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.secretprojects.co.uk%2Fthreads%2Fspacex-general-discussion.13774%2Fpage-138

    Artemis III on the way
    https://twitter.com/NASA_SLS/status/1614321465263886337?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1614321465263886337%7Ctwgr%5E87a50d321d358bda0d18975ca86ec187bc7a631f%7Ctwcon%5Es1_&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.secretprojects.co.uk%2Fthreads%2Fnasa-space-launch-system-sls.13729%2Fpage-23

    Marshall is no longer re-building—we’re reloading.

    So you go right ahead with the libertarian colored glasses—let Elon build his toys and park them.

    SLS has flown—and WILL fly again.

    Starship is just a totem.

    Worship the stainless steel calf at your own hazard.

    I am a member of the one TRUE church of the heavy lift.

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