Featured Image Source: Adrian Aguilar @SpxAdrian via Twitter
SpaceX aims to have a space-ready Starship in less than three years. The company’s first private customer, a Japanese entrepreneur named Yusaku Maezawa, purchased a voyage around the Moon by the year 2023. Maezawa plans to transform his space tour into an art project called ‘Dear Moon'. He will invite his favorite artists aboard Starship to create inspiring art. SpaceX runs around-the-clock operations at the South Texas Launch Facility to rapidly develop the Starship launch vehicle. Multiple stainless-steel prototypes of the spacecraft are under construction to undergo a variety of testing.
A close look at SN9’s top, mid and lower sections. Although 2 raptors were being replaced we hope for a possible 10km flight next week 🤞🏼 not confirmed pic.twitter.com/xXozenfjlM— Adrian Aguilar (@SpxAdrian) January 17, 2021
Starship SN9, the next prototype that will attempt a flight test, is going through preparations at the Boca Chica Beach launch site for the past couple of weeks. Preflight operations include a routine series of tests meant to assess if the Starship SN9 vehicle is ready to fly. SpaceX engineers performed a couple cryogenic pressure tests late-December, then tested SN9’s Raptor engine trio during brief ignition tests on January 13. Teams encountered an issue with two out of three Raptor engines and proceeded to replace them. For the past week, they have been working to perform static-fire tests of the newly installed engines. Since Wednesday, January 20, they have been attempting to perform the engine tests but the procedure has been aborted multiple times for unknown reasons.
Today, teams at Boca Chica continued to prepare the Starship SN9 vehicle for an engine ignition test. At approximately 4:44 p.m. Central Time, SpaceX ignited Starship SN9's engines as it remained grounded to the launch stand. Its engine trio roared for a few seconds. If the test was successful, SpaceX could be ready for a flight test. The video of today's Raptor test, shown below.
Boca Chica Beach road closure announcements indicate SpaceX will perform additional testing tomorrow as well, from 7:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Central Time. According to Temporary Flight Restriction publications by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) SpaceX could potentially launch Starship SN9 on a high-altitude test flight next week. Three NOTAM notices published to alert pilots not to fly in a particular area, indicate SpaceX targets to fly Starship SN9 any day between Monday, January 25 through Wednesday, January 27. SN9 is expected to mimic its predecessor's flight path, fly approximately 12.5-kilometers above Boca Chica Beach and perform a controlled aerodynamic descent and landing flip maneuver. You can watch SpaceX operations leading to launch day Live 24/7 in the video below, courtesy of LabPadre via YouTube. [All dates are subject to change.]
WATCH IT LIVE!
About the Author
Evelyn J. Arevalo joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover news as a Space Journalist and SpaceX Starbase Texas Correspondent. Evelyn is specialized in rocketry and space exploration. The main topics she covers are SpaceX and NASA.