SpaceX may attempt to test fire, and then launch, its latest Starship rocket prototype at the company’s South Texas facility on Friday (March 26).
Authorities in Cameron County, Texas, which is home to SpaceX’s Starship test site near Boca Chica Village, approved road closures ahead of an engine test and the launch of the Starship SN11 vehicle on Friday. SpaceX has not stated that it will actually try.
an SN11 release, but its test window opens at 8 a.m. EDT (7 a.m. local time, 1200 GMT) and lasts for more than 12 hours, according to Cameron County officials.
“I have ordered the closure of Boca Chica Beach and Hwy 4 in order to protect public health and safety during the SpaceX engine tests and the 10 km flight, in the time period between 7:00 am CST and 7:00 am : 30 pm CST, same day, “Cameron County Judge Eddie Trevino, Jr., said in a statement. “If the public wants to see the flight, do it from a safe distance and away from Boca Chica beach.”
Related: NASA astronauts take a closer look at SpaceX’s SN11 spacecraft (photo)
SpaceX’s Starship SN11 rocket is the latest prototype of a fully reusable spacecraft capable of conducting missions to the moon and beyond. The company is developing the 50-meter-high rocket and a massive booster called the Super Heavy to carry astronauts and other equipment to the Moon and Mars. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk unveiled the first Super Heavy prototype, a test version that will not fly, last week.
As its name suggests, the SN11 rocket is SpaceX’s eleventh spacecraft prototype. The private space flight company has launched three other prototypes so far, SN8, SN9 and SN10, from its facilities near Boca Chia beach, although none of them ultimately survived.
The Starship SN10 prototype was the first to land, but exploded a few minutes after landing. SpaceX has been modifying the Starship design with each launch to improve its performance.
On Monday (March 26), SpaceX conducted a test launch of its Starship SN11 rocket, setting the stage for an upcoming test flight. Like its recent predecessors, the SN11 is powered by three of SpaceX’s Raptor engines. It is expected to launch at an altitude of 10 kilometers (6.2 miles), then turn around to descend back to Earth and flip once more for a controlled landing using its engines.
SpaceX has already lined up customers for its Starship vehicle even as the company continues to refine the design of the spacecraft and its Super Heavy thruster.
Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa has signed up for a trip around the moon aboard a spaceship for himself and eight other people. That mission, called “dearMoon,” is scheduled to launch in 2023. NASA has also selected Starship as one of three contenders to get astronauts and payloads to the Moon as part of the space agency’s Artemis program.
Email Tariq Malik at [email protected] or follow him at @tariqjmalik. Follow us on @Spacedotcom, Facebook and Instagram.