By the year 2023 SpaceX hopes to have a Starship vehicle ready to launch a crewed mission. The first Starship passenger will be Japanese entrepreneur Yusaku Maezawa, who purchased a space tour to invite some of his favorite artists to see the Earth and the Moon's magnificent beauty from space. They will travel 240,000 miles away from home to orbit our closest celestial neighbor. Their circumlunar voyage will be turned into an art project called ‘Dear Moon’, in which they will create art to inspire the dreamer within all of us. The development of SpaceX’s Starship launch vehicle is on track at Boca Chica Beach in South Texas. The aerospace company has multiple Starship prototypes lined up to test out this year.
“As early as Thursday, January 28, the SpaceX team will attempt a high-altitude flight test of Starship serial number 9 (SN9) – the second high-altitude suborbital flight test of a Starship prototype from our site in Cameron County, Texas,” the company announced today. “Similar to the high-altitude flight test of Starship serial number 8 (SN8), SN9 will be powered through ascent by three Raptor engines, each shutting down in sequence prior to the vehicle reaching apogee – approximately 10 km in altitude. SN9 will perform a propellant transition to the internal header tanks, which hold landing propellant, before reorienting itself for reentry and a controlled aerodynamic descent,” SpaceX shared.
Starship SN8 performed an incredible flight test in December, however, the vehicle exploded upon landing due to a loss of pressure in its header tank. SpaceX engineers will perform a similar flight with SN9 and attempt to ace the landing this time around. “The Starship prototype will descend under active aerodynamic control, accomplished by independent movement of two forward and two aft flaps on the vehicle. All four flaps are actuated by an onboard flight computer to control Starship’s attitude during flight and enable precise landing at the intended location. SN9’s Raptor engines will then reignite as the vehicle attempts a landing flip maneuver immediately before touching down on the landing pad adjacent to the launch mount,” SpaceX explains on its website. According to Cameron County’s Boca Chica beach closure announcements, SpaceX could potentially launch Starship SN9 as soon as tomorrow, January 28, sometime between 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Central Time (CST). A backup launch opportunity is also scheduled for Friday, January 29, from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. CST. Boca Chica residents received ‘Alert’ letters from SpaceX, advising the village residents to evacuate the area during that time due to spaceflight operations, letter pictured below.
Starship SN9 is getting restless. 🤪 pic.twitter.com/79vW2p8Kzj— Mary (@BocaChicaGal) January 28, 2021
Achieving a successful landing will enable the company to move towards the spacecraft’s next phase of development. “A controlled aerodynamic descent with body flaps and vertical landing capability, combined with in-space refilling, are critical to landing Starship at destinations across the solar system where prepared surfaces or runways do not exist, and returning to Earth,” the company says, “This capability will enable a fully reusable transportation system designed to carry both crew and cargo on long-duration, interplanetary flights and help humanity return to the Moon, and travel to Mars and beyond.” You can watch SpaceX operations Live 24/7 in the video below, courtesy of LabPadre via YouTube. This article will also be updated with SpaceX's official livestream when its available.
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Featured Image Source: SpaceX
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.