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SpaceX is a leader in the aerospace industry. The company is taking on the challenge to develop a 15-story-high Starship spacecraft that will be capable of carrying 100 passengers on long-duration voyages to Mars. Colonizing the Red Planet is the company’s main objective. SpaceX teams at the South Texas launch facility are actively testing Starship vehicles. Starship Serial Number 11 (SN11) will be the next prototype of the spacecraft to conduct a high-altitude flight test at Boca Chica Beach. On Friday, March 12, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) authorized SpaceX to conduct the launch and the flight license was modified to require a FAA Safety Inspector during the upcoming flight test. “SpaceX is authorized to conduct flights: (a) Using the Starship Prototype vehicle on the ground track and trajectory presented in the license application; (b) From SpaceX’s Boca Chica Launch Site; (c) According to the launch vehicle, launch vehicle systems, and safety management program represented in the SpaceX application as of the date of this order, and any amendments to the license application approved by the FAA, in writing; and (d) Only when an FAA Safety Inspector is present at SpaceX’s Boca Chica launch and landing site,” the new FAA license document reads.
SpaceX has tested multiple stainless-steel Starship prototypes that have performed incredible flights which ended in explosions upon landing, however, the flight tests provided engineers with valuable data towards the spacecrafts development. The FAA is tasked with enforcing flight safety and performs environmental assessments to ensure everything is safe during flight operations. An Administration representative will now be present at Boca Chica to assess the upcoming flight. Starship SN11 is waiting at the launch pad where its undergoing preflight testing.
Last week, on March 9, the Starship SN11 vehicle underwent a cryogenic pressure test in which the stainless-steel vehicle was filled with liquid nitrogen to simulate the pressure it will experience with cryogenic propellants in-flight. Then engineers attempted to test SN11’s Raptor engines to asses their performance on Monday during a static-firing. The static-fire test was aborted (video above) now engineers will attempt the engine static-firing again on Tuesday, March 16. If the ignition test goes well, we could see Starship SN11 take flight as soon as later this week. According to an FAA Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) notice, SpaceX could potentially perform the high-altitude flight test sometime from March 17 through March 19 [All Dates Are Subject To Change]. You can watch SpaceX operations Live 24/7 in the video below, courtesy of LabPadre via YouTube.
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.