SpaceX is gearing up to test the ninth prototype of its big, shiny rocket, the Starship SN9 on Wednesday (Jan. 20), illuminating its engines for what should be the last time before its inaugural flight. The exam is expected to be held before 5 pm Central time.
The rocket would not go anywhere during this “static fire” test. (Or, at least, it is not considered.) But if all goes according to plan, this test should clear the way for a launch in the near future, although SpaceX has not set a date. NASA SpaceFlight, Boca Chica, Texas, is livestreaming the test from the site where SpaceX builds and tests its starship.
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This would be the SN9’s second static fire test, after a trio of 13 January, 13 tests ended indefinitely, with the engines not firing for the full intended duration, as NASA spaceflight reported. The company has swapped engines used in previous tests.
Starship is the defender of SpaceX – literally. The company suggested that a 160-foot-long (49 m) and 30-foot-wide (9 m) vehicle could one day land a large group of people on the moon or Mars. It has also sold tickets to climb future starships for an orbit around the moon. A large “Super Heavy” booster rocket would be needed to take the starship into space, and that rocket is not yet built.
For now, SpaceX focuses on developing the starship vehicle. The final prototype, the SN8, demonstrated impressive capabilities during the December 2020 test flight. That test saw the SN8 at the cruising altitude of a jetliner and made a controlled approach to its landing site before exiting contact. LiveScience reported at the time. SpaceX did not reveal what its goals are for this next launch, though a successful landing of the Mammoth vehicle may be on the menu.
Originally published on Live Science