SpaceX: Major engine test Thursday

SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell announced Wednesday that the company for the first time will attempt to test fire all 33 of its Super Heavy booster’s Raptor engines simultaneously Thursday at Boca Chica/Starbase.

She didn’t say what time of day the attempt would be made, though Cameron County has announced closure of Boca Chica Beach and S.H. 4 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday.

It’s the final major test before SpaceX’s planned first orbital launch of Starship/Super Heavy from Boca Chica in March. Shotwell characterized tomorrow as a “big day for SpaceX.”

“We are going to attempt a 33-engine static fire booster test for Starship,” she said during the announcement at the Federal Aviation Administration’s Commercial Space Transportation Conference in Washington D.C. “It’s really the final ground test that we can do before we light ‘em up and go.”

SpaceX test fired 14 of the Super Heavy’s engines on Nov. 14, the most so far.

The company is still waiting for an orbital launch license from the FAA, which ordered SpaceX to conduct more than 75 environmental mitigations as a condition for granting the license.

“We’ve been working all the mitigations since we got it. … I think we’ll be ready to fly right at the time frame that we get the license,” Shotwell said.

Per contract with NASA, SpaceX is developing Starship as the Human Landing System that will put U.S. astronauts back on the moon for the first time in 50 years as part of the space agency’s Artemis program.

The first crewed Artemis mission could take place as early as 2025. Shotwell said Starship would probably fly about 100 times before carrying humans for the first time.