SpaceX Starship’s new SN10 rocket prototype could fly Wednesday


SN10 and its predecessor SN9 on the launch pad in Boca Chica, Texas, in early February.


Prototype testing is coming extremely fast for SpaceX’s Starship program. Just a few weeks after its predecessor SN9 flew high then crashed On the Texas Gulf Coast, SN10 will try to improve that performance, and it could happen as soon as Wednesday. If you’d like to follow the high-altitude flight test live, we’ll have a link right here, shortly before the SpaceX live stream begins.

SN10 and SN9 are the latest versions of SpaceX and Elon Musk’s Starship prototypes that the company has been developing on view at its Boca Chica, Texas facility (or Starbase, as will be known soon). Musk has promised that the next generation rocket you will be able to take revolutionary point-to-point trips around the world, besides sending civilians to the moon, Mars and beyond.

In recent years, Starship prototypes have progressed from making short low-altitude “jumps” to high-altitude flying demonstrations. The last two serial numbers, SN8 and SN9, have flown at altitudes comparable to commercial aircraft, but then came in for explosive and hard landings.

Musk had warned before testing that he expected such “unscheduled quick teardown” events to be part of the development process.

SpaceX SN8 flew high and landed hard.

SpaceX CNET video capture by Jackson Ryan

Following the SN8 flight and crash landing in December, the SN9 follow-up flight suffered a series of delays throughout January. It was revealed that the SN8 had been launched without all the required approvals from the Federal Aviation Administration, and something of a staring contest developed as the FAA took its time to grant the launch license for SN9.

In the end, the FAA was satisfied with the safety precautions for the test flight and the SN9 finally flew on February 2. After its fiery return to Earth that afternoon, the FAA announced that it would be investigating the “mishap” of the landing.

On February 19, an FAA spokesman said by email that the agency closed the investigation into the landing accident, “clearing the way for the SN10 test flight pending FAA approval of license updates.”

“The SN9 vehicle failed within the limits of the FAA’s safety analysis. Its failed landing and explosion did not endanger the public or property. All debris was contained within the designated hazard area. The FAA approved the final accident report, including probable causes and corrective actions. “

As of February 22, Christian Davenport of the Washington Post was reporting The FAA launch license has been granted, paving the way for the SN10 to launch after a static litmus test.

That test was conducted on Tuesday, and SpaceX was not entirely satisfied with the results. One of the SN10’s Raptor engines was changed and another fire test was completed on Thursday. A launch was ruled out on Friday, and over the weekend SpaceX also chose not to attempt it on Monday, with Wednesday now being the earliest we expect to see a liftoff from Boca Chica.

Check back here for updates and a live stream once SN10 is ready to fly.

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