SpaceX’s Mars colonization goal gets ever-closer with every Starship flight test at the Starbase launch facility in Boca Chica Beach, Texas. The company hopes to send hundreds of astronauts to the Red Planet to build Mars Base Alpha before the year 2050. To achieve this, SpaceX plans to manufacture a fleet of at least 1,000 Starships over the course of ten years. Engineers still have a long way to go to eventually get there, they are still in the initial stage of developing the spacecraft. The company targets to launch the first Starship to orbit by summer this year. Before then, SpaceX plans to launch at least five improved prototypes, labeled SN15 through SN19, and two Super Heavy booster prototypes that are currently under assembly. Starship SN20 could be the first prototype to visit space, if all goes according to plan.
SpaceX founder Elon Musk says SpaceX aims to launch Starship SN15 next week, the shiny stainless-steel prototype features “hundreds of design improvements” meant to address issues previous prototypes faced during flight. All of SN15’s predecessors faced an explosive destruction upon landing. Musk said the improvements are ‘across structures, including avionics/software and engine.’ Starship SN15 also features an improved thrust puck design for its three Raptor engines. The most unexpected update is that SN15 has a Starlink dish antenna attached, if the Federal Communication's Commission approves, SpaceX will use its internet service during the upcoming flight test. Read more in the TESMANIAN article linked below.
SpaceX Requests To Test Starlink Terminal Onboard Starship During Flight Testhttps://t.co/GVvzbmRBxZ— Tesmanian.com (@Tesmanian_com) April 11, 2021
Starship SN15 is waiting at the launch pad where it already underwent pre-flight testing. Earlier this week, engineers conducted a series of cryogenic proof tests to expose the vehicle to the kind of pressures it will experience during flight. The vehicle should be capable of withstanding a ~6 bar strength, which is the strength required for an uncrewed orbital flight, a bar strength over 8.5 is the strength factor for a crewed flight. Engineers also tested the thrust puck’s strength with hydraulic rams which simulates the Raptor engine’s thrust.
Aiming to launch next week— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 15, 2021
Before Starship SN15 soars 10-kilometers above Boca Chica Beach, it must pass an ignition test of its three Raptor engines. Engineers are actively working to install the engines under the vehicle. Once installed, they could perform a static-fire test as soon as Monday, April 19, sometime from 12:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Central Time. With a back-up test opportunity scheduled for Tuesday, April 20. If the vehicle’s Raptor brief Raptor ignition is a success, Starship SN15 will fly next week, as Musk said. You can watch SpaceX teams prepare for the upcoming flight test Live in the video below, courtesy of LabPadre via YouTube. [All dates are subject to change.]
WATCH IT LIVE!
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.