After SpaceX unexpectedly used a road closure on Monday to deliver its first custom-built rocket fuel tank, plans for Starship’s upcoming test and launch campaign have begun to solidify.
Most importantly, the initial schedule for Starship’s serial number 15 (SN15) test campaign appears to be clear. Beginning Wednesday, April 7, road closures presented by SpaceX suggest that the first of a new group of enhanced starships will be transported from the construction site to the launch pad at 11 a.m.-1: 30 p.m. CDT ( UTC-5) on Thursday in April. Eighth. Once SN15 is installed on ‘Suborbital Platform A’, SpaceX means wasting no time and has scheduled a road closure from 7 am-12pm on Friday.
As usual, the weekend will once again be free of tests or activities that require road closures, but SpaceX has already agreed to noon at 8 p.m. on Monday and Tuesday (April 12/13) to continue testing its new Starship prototype.
While road closure notices no longer offer any real detail, some basic details can still be inferred. The April 7 shutdown, for example, warns that SpaceX only plans to intermittently close the highway, but not the Boca Chica beach, implying that the window does not pose a threat to residents or beach goers. Historically, that means something will be transported, probably Starship SN15, in this case.
On Friday, SpaceX scheduled a full five-hour shutdown of both the road and the beach, implying that some sort of test is likely to take place. The same happens with Mondays and Tuesdays, but with closures longer than eight hours.
Most likely, assuming the Starship SN15 platform transport and launch support installation go smoothly, SpaceX will use the shorter window on Friday to complete a basic ambient pressure test: filling the rocket with gas. Nitrogen at room temperature to test your complex plumbing tanks and propellant leaks. Continuing the IFF chain (if and only if), SpaceX will spend the weekend preparing Starship SN15 for a cryogenic test run and a thrust structure stress test, simulating the thrust of three Raptors after charging the rocket with nitrogen. extremely cold liquid (LN2).
SpaceX will most likely spend an additional day or two inspecting Starship SN15 and removing the hydraulic ram used to simulate thrust from the launch bracket on which the spacecraft is installed. Once SN15 and its mount are clear, SpaceX can go through the static fire test. Given that, according to CEO Elon Musk, SN15 will debut with Raptor engines with an unknown degree of upgrades, it is reasonable to assume that SpaceX will take things relatively slowly and possibly run more than one static fire test even if the first attempt is successful. total. .
If not and SpaceX continues to push hard as it did with SN10 and SN11, it is not out of the question that Starship SN15 will be ready for its first launch attempt around Friday April 16 or Monday April 19. Stay tuned for updates as SpaceX hopefully launches the rocket to its Boca Chica, Texas launch site later today.