SpaceX simply fired up its newest Starship prototype, retaining the automobile on monitor for a high-altitude take a look at flight this week.
The three Raptor engines of Starship SN11 (“Serial No. 11”) ignited briefly right now (March 22) at 9:56 a.m. EDT (1356 GMT) throughout a static hearth take a look at at SpaceX’s South Texas services, close to the Gulf Coast village of Boca Chica.
Static hearth exams, throughout which engines are lit whereas a automobile stays anchored to the bottom, are a typical preflight checkout for SpaceX rockets. SN11’s upcoming flight will take the stainless steel automobile to a most altitude of about 6.2 miles (10 kilometers). That uncrewed jaunt may occur as early as Wednesday (March 24), in line with scheduled road closures in the Boca Chica area.
Starship and Tremendous Heavy: SpaceX’s Mars-colonizing vehicles in images
SpaceX is creating Starship to hold individuals and cargo to the moon, Mars and different distant locations. The structure consists of two reusable elements — a 165-foot-tall (50 meters) spacecraft known as Starship and an enormous first-stage booster often known as Tremendous Heavy. Each automobiles shall be powered by Raptor engines — six for Starship and about 30 for Tremendous Heavy.
Three Starship prototypes have already taken to the skies on high-altitude take a look at flights in the previous few months. SN8 and SN9 carried out very properly till landing, exploding once they hit the touchdown pad. SN10, which flew on March 3, did even higher: The prototype landed in one piece but exploded about eight minutes later.
SpaceX will quickly begin placing Tremendous Heavy by means of its paces as properly. Final week, firm founder and CEO Elon Musk unveiled the first-ever Super Heavy, which he described as a “manufacturing pathfinder.” The subsequent Tremendous Heavy that SpaceX builds will truly fly, the billionaire entrepreneur stated.
We must always count on plenty of Starship and Tremendous Heavy exams within the coming weeks and months. Musk just lately stated that SpaceX goals to launch an orbital take a look at flight with Starship this 12 months, and that he expects the spaceship-rocket duo to be fully operational by 2023.
SpaceX first tried to gentle up Starship SN11 final Monday (March 15), however that static hearth try was aborted.
Mike Wall is the writer of “Out There” (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a e book concerning the seek for alien life. Observe him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Observe us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Fb.