A view of Starship Ship 20 and Booster 4 at Starbase on Oct. 22, 2021. The catching arm can be seen next to the launch tower a few days before its installation. Credit: Elon Musk / SpaceX
SpaceX continues to test Starship Ship 20 engines at its South Texas launch facility as engineers connect the Mechazilla chopstick booster catching arms to the orbital launch tower.
Following the successful tests of cryogenic loading and a preburner ignition last week, Starship Ship 20 successfully test fired its Raptor vacuum engine the night of Oct. 21, 2021, which was followed shortly after by a sea-level engine test firing.
Currently, only one of each engine is installed on the test article. However, three of each are expected to be installed in the coming month.
As SpaceX continues to put Ship 20 through its paces on the ground, attention has been focused on the ship’s thermal protection system, which is made up of thousands of black hexagonal-shaped ceramic tiles lining the underbelly of the vehicle.
A few of the tiles are visibly missing after the tests, however this seems to be an improvement from previous tile shedding events experienced by the vehicle. Company CEO Elon ...