SpaceX initiates Starship SN9's preflight test campaign with a Proof Test –Watch It Live!

SpaceX initiates Starship SN9's preflight test campaign with a Proof Test –Watch It Live!

Featured Image Source: @cnunezimages via Twitter

SpaceX is speeding up the development of its Mars spacecraft. Just twenty days ago the company launched the Starship SN8 prototype on the first high-altitude test flight powered by three Raptor engines. During the launch SN8 completed all test objectives but it exploded upon landing, however, the flight was a success because “SN8 demonstrated a first-of-its-kind controlled aerodynamic descent and landing flip maneuver,” the company stated, “Together these will enable landing where no runways exist, including the Moon, Mars, and beyond.” The flight test provided engineers with valuable data that will enable them to further develop the spacecraft. Now, they are preparing to launch the next test vehicle at the SpaceX South Texas Launch Facility.



Last night, SpaceX performed an ambient pressure test of the Starship SN9 prototype that will perform the next high-altitude flight in South Texas. SpaceX initiated Starship SN9's preflight test campaign with proof tests. During the first pressurization test, teams filled the stainless-steel vehicle with gaseous nitrogen at ambient temperatures. Today, engineers proceeded to perform a second pressure test, this time the Starship SN9 vehicle is loaded with (ultra-cold) cryogenic liquid nitrogen, a test designed to confirm its ability to hold sub-chilled propellants at very high pressure. You can watch the ongoing test Live in the video below, courtesy of NASASpaceflight via YouTube. Teams will test the vehicle this afternoon (December 29) during a timeframe scheduled from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Central Time. Additional test opportunity dates are scheduled on Wednesday at the same time. 

If the cryogenic pressure test goes well, it means the Starship SN9 vehicle is strong enough to take flight and teams will proceed to the next phase of testing. The next test is expected to be a static-firing, in which the vehicle’s Raptor engine performance will be assessed with cryogenic methane and liquid oxygen propellants while briefly ignited. The static-fire test could take place early January, according to Cameron County Boca Chica Beach road closure announcements scheduled from January 4 through January 6. We could see another Starship take flight as soon as next month!



SpaceX has bold plans for the Starship launch vehicle. The rocket company’s grand vision is building a fleet of 1,000 Starships to launch towards the Red Planet over the course of 10 Mars-Earth orbital synchronizations –that is a period of about 20 years. The founder of SpaceX Chief Engineer Elon Musk hopes to build a sustainable city on Mars by the year 2050. –“A thousand ships will be needed to create a sustainable Mars city. As the planets align only once every two years. So, it will take about 20 years to transfer a million tons to Mars Base Alpha, which is hopefully enough to make it sustainable,” he said earlier this year.



Featured Image Source: @cnunezimages via Twitter

About the Author

Evelyn Arevalo

Evelyn Arevalo

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.

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