Starship Rocket Gobbles Up 10 Million Pounds of Fuel Just to See If It Can

I bet not many of you missed hearing the combination of words “wet dress rehearsal test.” This is the phrase that haunted the sleepless nights of space enthusiasts throughout 2022, as NASA was fighting like hell to keep the propellant of the Artemis I mission from leaking because of various issues. And now the words are used for the first time in connection with perhaps the most exciting space exploration effort of the new year: Starship.
SpaceX Starship being loaded with fuel 6 photos
Booster 7 Raptor engines static fire testBooster 7 Raptor engines static fire testBooster 7 Raptor engines static fire testBooster 7 Raptor engines static fire testBooster 7 Raptor engines static fire test
But first, a short recap of what a wet dress rehearsal is. In rocket scientists' terms, that would be a procedure performed before an actual launch to see how fuel can be loaded into a rocket, how the tanks hold, and then how the fuel can be drained.

In the case of the Artemis I Space Launch System (SLS), that meant pumping 700,000 gallons of cryogenic fuel (liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen) into the rocket, and we all know how badly that went, several times even.

When it comes to SpaceX’s Starship, things seem to have been far better. The rocket that’s supposed to help with the Artemis III crewed mission, but also become the precursor of a potential Mars-capable transport, is currently getting ready for its first orbital flight.

Earlier in January, SpaceX’s Elon Musk said there was a good chance of seeing the rocket lift off in late February, but even a better one for it to get going in March. That seems to be just right, as the private space company just announced it has completed Starship’s first wet dress rehearsal test.

During the procedure, conducted at the Boca Chica Beach, Texas Starbase facility, no less than 10 million pounds (4.5 million liters) of propellant (liquid oxygen and methane) were loaded into the tanks. More importantly, as per SpaceX, this was the first time “an integrated Ship and Booster were fully loaded” like this.

The combo that will make history by reaching orbit for the first time comprises the Booster 7 Super Heavy first-stage prototype and the Ship 24 spaceship. The booster is powered by 33 Raptor engines capable of developing 510,000 lbf each. When burning at full capacity, their combined might should overcome the SLS to become the most powerful rocket ever made.

All that power will put Ship 24 into orbit. The mission profile, at least up to this point, calls for the ship to take off from Boca Chica, orbit the planet just one time, and then come back down to Earth, to splash down off the coast of Hawaii about 90 minutes after it left the Lone Star state.

The booster on the other hand will do what all other SpaceX rockets do, which is to come back to Earth for a controlled landing on a designated pad.


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