“The hot fire test is the final test of the entire integrated launch system, where we get to test every single component of the rocket,” explains Chris Kemp, Astra’s Founder and CEO. “It allows us to make sure all of the upgrades work before we send the rocket into space.”
During this “dress rehearsal for launch,” the fully assembled vehicle is positioned on the ground while engines are fired at full thrust. The static test — or “hot fire test” as it is sometimes known — allows our team to ensure all mechanics and ground support systems are functioning as expected, ready for a successful launch.
The video above shows the hot fire test for Astra Launch Vehicle 0006 on August 4, 2021. There are three main stages to the hot fire testing process that you can see in the video:
- Fire suppression system: Water is sprayed out of the flame deflectors to cool down the vehicle prior to thrust.
- All engines go: Engines are fired at full thrust, for 8-10 seconds. Flames erupt from the rocket’s booster, turning water from the fire suppression system into steam.
- Shutdown: Systems are shut down, measurements are taken and analyzed, and the rocket is prepared for next steps.