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Watch SpaceX teams guide spacecraft thruster into place by hand for key test firing

SpaceX, Elon Musk’s rocket company pioneer of autonomous orbital rocket landing, using droneships and even plans to grab his Super Heavy boosters using giant automated arms attached to his launch tower. But when it came time to negotiate setting up one of the next-gen big thrusters for a static fire test, the futuristic company did it the old-fashioned way.

YouTube channel that stalks SpaceX Cosmic perspective was on hand at the company’s Starbase facility in Texas to watch a crew guide a 70-meter (230-foot) tall Super Heavy 7 booster into place by hand. No autonomous system, laser link or self-driving algorithm was involved; instead it was just a bunch of workers and lots of rope, like the rocket was part of a rodeo or a resident of Brobdingnag.

The video below of literal rocket wrangling was captured a few days ago, in preparation for a successful static test firing of a single-engine version of the rocket on Tuesday afternoon.

Super Heavy has been tested before, but this was the first such test from the actual orbital launch pad on the pad where we’ll likely see the pairing of a Super Heavy and Starship make their first trip to space in the weeks or months to come.

Starbase had actually seen no test fires in 2022 until Tuesday. It’s been uncharacteristically quiet as the company focused on ramping up production of Raptor engines while it waits to receive key regulatory approvals for Starship’s first orbital demonstration mission.

In June, SpaceX received good news that it would remove a major hurdle in the form of a mandatory environmental review, subject to the company making dozens of changes to its mission plan.

The Federal Aviation Administration has yet to issue a launch license for Starship to go into space, which will be the final item on a long checklist before the rocket designed to eventually carry humans to the Moon and Mars can finally get a little taste of orbit.