SpaceX fires up Starship prototype again ahead of test flight (video)

SpaceX continues to gear up for the first-ever orbital test flight of its Starship Mars rocket.

SpaceX performed another "static fire" test today (Dec. 15) at its South Texas facility, lighting up Ship 24, a prototype of Starship's 165-foot-tall (50 meters) upper-stage spacecraft.

One of Ship 24's six Raptor engines ignited at 2:01 p.m. EST (1901 GMT; 1:01 p.m. local Texas time), firing for about seven seconds while the vehicle remained anchored to the ground. The brief test was captured on video by NASASpaceFlight and Rocket Ranch Boca Chica

Related: SpaceX's Starship Super Heavy test-fires record 14 engines (video)

SpaceX's Ship 24 Starship prototype lights one its six Raptor engines during a brief static fire test on Dec. 15, 2022 in this overhead view. (Image credit: SpaceX via Twitter)

Ship 24 will fly on the Starship program's first orbital test flight, which SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk has said could lift off in the next few months. The prototype has already been through a static-fire gamut; it lit up all six of its Raptors in September, for example.

Ship 24 will lift off atop Booster 7, a prototype of Starship's massive Super Heavy first stage. SpaceX has been putting Booster 7 through its paces as well. On Nov. 29, for instance, the giant rocket lit up 11 of its 33 Raptors. Fifteen days before that, the booster performed a 14-engine static fire.

SpaceX's Ship 24 Starship prototype lights one its six Raptor engines during a brief static fire test on Dec. 15, 2022. (Image credit: SpaceX)

SpaceX is developing the fully reusable Starship to take people and cargo to the moon and Mars, and to fly a variety of other missions closer to home. For example, SpaceX plans to launch the majority of its next-generation Starlink internet satellites using Starship, Musk has said.

SpaceX has already lined up some customers for Starship lunar flights. NASA picked the vehicle to be the first crewed lander for its Artemis moon program, and Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa booked a Starship mission around the moon that will carry a handful of artists and influencers, including "Everyday Astronaut" Tim Dodd

Mike Wall is the author of "Out There" (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or on Facebook.  

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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.