SpaceX fires up Starship prototype in deorbit burn test (video)

SpaceX has fired up another one of its Starship vehicles.

The company briefly ignited one of the six Raptor engines on its Ship 26 Starship prototype on Friday (Oct. 20) at its Starbase site, on Texas' Gulf Coast.

"Single engine static fire demonstrating flight-like startup for a Starship deorbit burn," SpaceX wrote in a Friday post on X (formerly known as Twitter), which featured video of the burn.

RelatedRelive SpaceX's explosive 1st Starship test in incredible launch photos

SpaceX fires a single engine on its Ship 26 Starship prototype in a deorbit burn test on Oct. 20, 2023. (Image credit: SpaceX)

Starship, SpaceX's next-generation deep-space transportation system, is the biggest and most powerful rocket ever built. It consists of a huge first-stage booster called Super Heavy and an upper-stage spacecraft known as Starship.

Both of these elements are powered by SpaceX's Raptor engine — 33 of them for Super Heavy and six for Starship — and both are designed to be fully and rapidly reusable. 

Such reuse will be enabled by deorbit burns and other engine firings that allow Starship vehicles to return safely to Earth after liftoff. 

Starship has yet to perform any safe landings after space missions, however. The vehicle is still in development and has just one fully stacked liftoff under its belt, a test flight in April of this year that ended in a controlled detonation when several problems were encountered shortly after launch.

SpaceX is gearing up for the second-ever Starship test flight, which will involve a Super Heavy known as Booster 9 and the Ship 25 upper stage. The company has conducted static fires with both of these vehicles and says the duo are ready to fly from a technical standpoint.

But there are still regulatory hurdles to clear: Booster 9 and Ship 25 can't get off the ground until SpaceX gets a launch license from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration.

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Mike Wall
Senior Space Writer

Michael Wall is a Senior Space Writer with and joined the team in 2010. He primarily covers exoplanets, spaceflight and military space, but has been known to dabble in the space art beat. His book about the search for alien life, "Out There," was published on Nov. 13, 2018. Before becoming a science writer, Michael worked as a herpetologist and wildlife biologist. He has a Ph.D. in evolutionary biology from the University of Sydney, Australia, a bachelor's degree from the University of Arizona, and a graduate certificate in science writing from the University of California, Santa Cruz. To find out what his latest project is, you can follow Michael on Twitter.

  • bryant
    Admin said:
    SpaceX fired one of the six Raptor engines on its Ship 26 Starship prototype on Friday (Oct. 20) in a deorbit burn test in South Texas.

    SpaceX fires up Starship prototype in deorbit burn test (video) : Read more
    What are they (FAA) waiting for? light that rocket and make progress.