SpaceX announced Monday that it has completed a major test of its latest Starship prototype, as the company prepares for the mighty rocket’s first orbital launch.
Starship Prototype 24, stacked on Super Heavy Booster Prototype 7, was fueled at SpaceX’s Starbase facility in Texas in a test known as a “wet dress rehearsal.” While the test does not include firing the rocket motors, it is typical practice during the development of a new liquid-fueled vehicle to demonstrate that it can be filled safely prior to launch, as well as verify the steps of a launch countdown. .
“This was the first time an integrated Ship and Booster has been fully loaded with over 10 million pounds of propellant,” SpaceX said in a tweet.
Starship is a nearly 400-foot-tall rocket designed to carry cargo and people beyond Earth. It’s also central to NASA’s plan to return astronauts to the moon, as SpaceX won a nearly $3 billion contract from the agency in 2021.
A Starship orbital launch attempt marks the next step in rocket flight tests. It’s been almost two years since the company last conducted a flight test of Starship, and late last year, SpaceX shook the lead at its “Starbase” facility in Texas as the company works to get the next launch off the ground.
SpaceX has a few more steps to go before Starship can launch, including a planned test firing of all 33 engines on the Super Heavy booster rocket base. The company also needs a launch license from the Federal Aviation Administration.