Human WorldSpaceflight

Starship fires (almost) all her engines

Spacex Starship rocket with fire blasting out of base, two views, from above and from the side.
SpaceX performs a full-duration static test fire of the Starship Super Heavy Booster 7 at Starbase in Boca Chica, Texas, on February 9, 2023. While two of the booster’s 33 engines did not fire during the test, the company declared it a success. Image via SpaceX via Twitter.

Starship fires (almost) all her engines

SpaceX’s Starship performed a successful full-duration static test fire at 3:13 p.m. CST today (21:13 UTC Thursday, February 9, 2023) at Starbase in Boca Chica, Texas. The test – in which the (first stage) engines are ignited (“fired”), but the vehicle does not launch (stays “static”) – involved the Starship Super Heavy Booster 7. SpaceX is developing Starship as a fully-reusable super heavy-lift launch vehicle. It’ll be integral to missions to the moon and Mars. Starship stands 390 feet tall (120 meters tall). It has more than twice the thrust of the Saturn V rockets that carried the first astronauts to the moon. It’s designed to be the tallest and most powerful launch vehicle ever built, and the first capable of total reusability. Woo-hoo!

Now on sale! The 2023 EarthSky lunar calendar. A unique and beautiful poster-sized calendar showing phases of the moon every night of the year. Treat yourself!

SpaceX announced the test’s outcome via Twitter:

According to SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, speaking via Twitter, flight controllers disabled one of the craft’s 33 Raptor engines prior to the successful test. Another Raptor cut itself off mid-burn:

Firing test was a record-setter

Some back-of-a-napkin math had New Zealand-based spaceflight reporter Marcus House wondering if today’s test fire set a record for the most thrust ever generated by a booster.

It turns out Starship – burning at less than 50 percent of capacity during the hot fire test – didn’t outpower the ill-fated Soviet N1 moonship, but another of that craft’s records was surpassed. Today’s test involved 31 engines firing simultaneously, one more than the 30 engines on the N1 that could have flown cosmonauts to the moon.

SpaceX did beat an American spaceflight record dating back to the Apollo Era and the height of the Space Race. When Starship stretched its legs for the first time, it outpowered the Saturn V that carried NASA astronauts to the moon. The throttled-back test of Starship Heavy Booster 7 produced 7.9 million lbf (3,600 metric tons) of thrust. Firing at maximum, the Saturn V pushed 7.6 million lbf (3,450 metric tons) of force, setting a record that stood for 55 years.

Tearing up Texas!

As previously reported by, Starship has already cleared all the other hurdles on the path to an orbital test flight. The Federal Aviation Administration must grant a license to fly before the full Starship stack – the booster tested today topped by a Starship cargo craft – can lift off on its maiden voyage.

Part of the FAA’s concern involves the impact of testing at Starbase on the local ecology. The site is adjacent to the Las Palomas Wildlife Management Area. Video of today’s test provided by shows flocks of birds startling into flight as the booster fires. The power of the 31 engines tore loose chunks of the Texas landscape that can be heard falling back to Earth near remote cameras.

Bottom line: SpaceX performed a successful full-duration static test fire of the Starship Heavy Booster on Thursday, February 9, 2023.

February 9, 2023
Human World

Like what you read?
Subscribe and receive daily news delivered to your inbox.

Your email address will only be used for EarthSky content. Privacy Policy
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

More from 

Dave Adalian

View All