“SpaceX’s huge Starship booster conducts historic 31-engine burn” – TTG

SpaceX’s giant Starship vehicle just took a huge step toward its first-ever orbital test flight, which could take place as soon as next month. A Starship first-stage prototype known as Booster 7 ignited 31 of its 33 Raptor engines during a “static fire” test today (Feb. 9) at SpaceX’s Starbase facility in South Texas. The goal was to fire all 33 Raptors during the test, which occurred at 4:13 p.m. EST (2113 GMT; 3:13 p.m. local Texas time). But SpaceX will take it. 

“Team turned off one engine just before start and one stopped itself, so 31 engines fired overall. But still enough engines to reach orbit!” company founder and CEO Elon Musk said via Twitter just after the test wrapped up.

The static fire lasted about seven seconds, the duration that SpaceX had mapped out beforehand, according to the company. And Booster 7 emerged from the huge cloud of kicked-up dust in one piece, which is something to celebrate as well. 


Comment: SpaceX could try for an orbital launch of a Starship/booster combo as early as next month. That’s impressive. I also find it impressive that it is expected to reach orbit even if several of the Raptor engines fail to fire… damned good design.

In other Musk news Starlink is not allowing Ukraine to use its internet service with her drones. I’m curious about the thought process that went into that decision. Well, for good or bad, Elon is going to Elon.


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23 Responses to “SpaceX’s huge Starship booster conducts historic 31-engine burn” – TTG

  1. Whitewall says:

    “Starlink is not allowing Ukraine to use its internet service with her drones.”

    Sounds like one of the three letter intelligence agencies in DC making that call. Or else a total misdirect and the story is false.

  2. JamesT says:


    My thinking is that Elon doesn’t want his satellites shot down. He would have trouble weathering that kind of financial hit at the moment.

    • wiz says:


      Do the Russian have a capability to selectively shoot down or disable satellites en masse ?

      Perhaps Musk wants to avoid Starlink getting the status of an active combatant.
      I bet there a plenty of Starlink/SpaceX employees of Russian descent who would be motivated to come up with a solution to jam those satellites.

      • TTG says:


        I’m fairly confident Russia can create a massive debris field in the Starlink orbit if they chose to do so.

        • wiz says:


          I’m not an astrophysicist but wouldn’t that create a wider problem ?
          A great number of particles with varying amounts of kinetic energy taking other orbits/trajectories.
          How do you prevent taking out your own satellites in the process or the ones belonging to your friends (China) ?

          • TTG says:


            It would definitely cause wider problems. That particular orbit and perhaps adjacent orbits would become problematic for any use. I think zapping satellites with some kind of energy rather than blowing them up is a way around that problem. It would still be like being the first to use a nuclear weapon. All hell could break loose.

        • blue peacock says:


          If the Russians do that then do you think the US government would sit idle? Why wouldn’t they do the same for Russian space assets?

          This would be a significant escalation by Putin. I don’t get why folks are so concerned about Western support to Ukraine to enable them to be more competitive militarily. The Russian military and space command should be concerned about Putin’s escalation to other domains as their capabilities may not be as strong as the US.

          • wiz says:

            blue peacock

            Starlink is a private company. If the US retaliates against Russian government satellites then the Russians attack the US government
            satellites and pretty soon no one has working satellites in orbit, except maybe for those used as an early warning against nuke attack.

            The Chinese have nice baloons so maybe these can be used when the satellites are gone 🙂

          • Sam says:

            Starlink a private American company, attacked by a State for providing its product to another customer.

            It won’t take long for other states to get involved in such a situation. The US government certainly will not be silent. I doubt Putin pulls that trigger. His army hasn’t done well so far just in a conventional war with a tiny, less armed Ukrainian army. He should be skeptical of their performance in a space war.

            Who knows maybe Elon has the capacity to launch from Starship projectiles to blow up all the Russian satellites with the covert assistance of US Space Command?? Now that would be fascinating – a State taking out a private company’s asset and the private company taking out the State’s assets!

          • wiz says:


            Ukrainian army is not tiny. Not in numbers, equipment or heart. Certainly more capable and motivated than most NATO armies.

            If Musk or the US starts taking out Russian gov. satellites, then as TTG says, all hell breaks loose.
            Pretty soon, you’ll have millions upon millions of high velocity, small and not so small particles whizzing around in various orbits. No more GPS, no more Starlink, no more surveillance, sat. drone control etc. Who’s army needs this more ?

            As for attacking civilian companies providing products to customers, the trigger has already been pulled. Remember Nord Stream sabotage ?

            Russia has still not retaliated for that.

  3. walrus says:

    TTG, I think Musk was making a humanitarian gesture when he supplied the Starlink services to Ukraine. I do not think he contemplated it becoming integrated into a real time military command and control system (C3I?) because that potentially makes the System a military target.

    Once Starlink is regarded by the Russians as a military system, as is the case if it is regularly used for real time drone control, targeting and weapon release, etc. then there is an unmanageable risk that Russia may destroy it. Needless to say, potential investors don’t see this as desirable.

    One of your blog colleagues is claiming that the Russians have already developed some Starlink countermeasures – enough for artillery targeting of operating Starlink terminals.

    • TTG says:


      From the very beginning Starlink was an integral and critical part of the Ukrainian military’s C3I system. It remains so even if it’s not allowed to be used for drone control. Musk now claims it was meant to be a purely humanitarian gesture and Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX’s president and CEO, said it was never meant to be weaponized (I hate that term). I find it hard to believe they hadn’t a clue that Starlink systems given to the Ukrainian military were going to be used by that military. Musk even boasted how he countered the Russian jamming of Starlink with software changes.

      I do understand how Musk can now have mixed emotions about all this. Putting Starlink in the hands of the Ukrainian military has antagonized the hell out of the Russians. Musk knows that. He’s not sure how far the Russians will go to stop Starlink. He may be taking this one step in an effort to reduce that level of antagonism. As you said, this could be a business decision, risk mitigation and all that. Beyond that business decision, I’m not sure where he stands personally between Kyiv and Moscow. He may not be sure himself.

      • Mark Logan says:

        TTG, Walrus,

        I recall Musk saying he wanted to be paid for the service a couple months ago and was so blasted in social media he relented and promised to continue the effort as it had been – on his own nickel.

        This may be a more subtle tack towards that objective. He’s not as rich as he once was, per many reports.

        • TTG says:

          Mark Logan,

          He’s now being paid on contract primarily by the USG. Yes, people gave him hell for wanting to be paid, but he was right. He should be paid. His initial donations were sizeable and most appreciated, but no one should expect him to do it all on his own.`

          • Mark Logan says:


            Then I was mislead by this article, in which the CEO states flatly the Pentagon is not paying. There are certainly more avenues than the Pentagon for funding.


          • TTG says:

            Mark Logan,

            Much of the initial government funding came through USAID.That began back in March 2022. More recently, Poland and several other European countries have spent millions on Starlink base stations (over 10,000) and internet service. But we can’t be too harsh on Elon. He got the ball rolling with several thousand donated base stations, established and maintained service over Ukraine and provided upgrades to overcome Russian efforts to jam the signals. That’s a sizable donation. I just wish he’d stop being a little bitch about it now.

      • wiz says:


        He doesn’t strike me as overly emotional, probably not caring much for either Russia or Ukraine.
        He does care about Starlink and SpaceX and as you said is acting like a businessman trying to hedge his risks.
        If the most probable course of action for Russia is to make the Starlink orbit unsable it probably also throws a wrench into his SpaceX program.

        Starlink satellites are in a low orbit to reduce signal delay, RTT and what not. If you now have a huge debris cloud in low orbit, it makes it that much more difficult to launch rockets through it. Or so it seems to me. If someone here is an expert it would be interesting to know more.

    • Peter Hug says:

      As far as I’m concerned, I will be terminating my relationship with Starlink on Monday. I pretty much was keeping it up because of what he was doing for Ukraine, but I guess that legitimately can end.

  4. Leith says:

    The Soviets had a 30-engine rocket booster back in the race-to-the-moon days. In their haste to launch they never gave it a static fire test like that done for the SpaceX Starship. They got the plumbing or the timing or something screwed up and it never got to space blowing up just a few moments after liftoff. This was in the late 1960s and the engine control system was analog, so probably too slow to react. Four tries, four failures.

  5. Putting a solar panel farm on the surface of the moon?
    Blue Origin is examining the possibility of that:


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