SpaceX fires up Starship SN20 prototype in key 6-engine test (video)

SpaceX is still preparing its Starship prototype for an historic orbital test flight.
In a short "static fire" test, the Starship SN20 vehicle lit all six Raptor engines during a brief test at Starbase, SpaceX near Boca Chica in South Texas.

"Good static fire with all six engine!" Elon Musk, SpaceX's founder and CEO, tweeted shortly after the test at 1:13 p.m. ET (1813 GMT; 12-13 p.m. Texas time). The test was webcast by (

Photos: SpaceX launches a super heavy rocket from the launch stand

In this screenshot taken from a video, the Starship SN20 prototype of SpaceX performs a six engine static fire test in South Texas on November 12, 2021. (Image credit:

SpaceX is building Starship to transport people and cargo to the moon, Mars, and other distant locations. Two fully reusable components make up the system: Super Heavy, a massive first-stage booster, and Starship, a spacecraft that is 165 feet tall (50m)

SpaceX has previously launched Starship prototypes, sending only a few three-engine vehicles up to 6 miles (10 km) above the ground. SN20, however, will take a bigger leap. It is being prepared to launch atop a Super Heavy during the first ever Starship orbital test flight. SpaceX hopes to launch it in the next weeks or months.

Because the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration is still conducting an environment assessment at the Starbase orbital rocket launch site, the timing of the liftoff is uncertain. Although the FAA submitted a draft assessment, and received public comments on it, the final report has yet to be released.

Today's test was not the first static fire. This is a trial where rocket engines are briefly activated while the vehicle remains anchored on the ground. It was done by SN20. SpaceX did back-to-back static firings with the vehicle Oct. 21. However, SN20 only had two Raptors at that time. Today's test featured six engines in flight -- three "sea-level" Raptors, and three that are optimized for space.