Capitalism in space: Despite being blocked by the federal government bureauceacy from launching its Starship/Superheavy rocket on its first orbital flight, SpaceX yesterday successfully completed another static fire launchpad test of the 20th prototype of Starship.
It appears that this was the second static fire test that used all six of prototypes’s Raptor engines.
Meanwhile, Superheavy prototype #4 sits on the orbital launchpad, where similar static fire tests were expected but have not yet occurred. Either SpaceX engineers found they needed to additional revisions of the prototype before attempted such a test, which could fire as many as 29 Raptor engines at once, or the company has decided to hold back its testing because the FAA has not yet approved the environmental reassessment for the Boca Chica launch site. Firing the engines on Superheavy before that approval could be used by SpaceX’s environmental enemies as a public relations weapon to help kill the approval entirely.
Personally I think the answer is the former. It is not Elon Musk’s way to cower in fear of others. In fact, he is more likely to push forward, knowing that the publicity from a successful Superheavy static fire test will almost certainly be mostly positive and enthusiastic, thus helping to force politicians to force the bureaucracy to sign off its approval.
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