Featured Image Source: SpaceX
Boca Chica Beach, a small village in South Texas, is rapidly transforming into SpaceX’s ‘Gateway to Mars’. The aerospace company’s founder, Elon Musk, envisions transforming the area into a ‘21st Century Spaceport’ and resort where a Starship fleet will embark on a voyage to colonize the Red Planet. Engineers aim to develop a fully reusable two-stage spacecraft consisting of a Starship capable of carrying one hundred passengers, and a Super Heavy rocket booster capable of propelling multiple spacecraft to orbit per day. “Starship will be the world’s most powerful launch vehicle ever developed, with the ability to carry in excess of 100 metric tonnes to Earth orbit,” the company states. The Boca Chica rocket factory is building multiple Starship prototypes, each are set to undergo testing that will provide insight towards the spacecraft’s development. To date, SpaceX has performed four Starship flight tests with different prototypes at the South Texas Launch Site. The most recent flight took place on December 9, Starship SN8 was the first fully-assembled vehicle to perform a high-altitude flight and the first-of-its-kind aerodynamic landing flip maneuver. The amazing flight test showcased SpaceX’s engineering talent, despite of an explosive landing. Starship SN8 “successfully ascended, transitioned propellant, and performed its landing flip maneuver with precise flap control to reach its landing point. Low pressure in the fuel header tank during the landing burn led to high touchdown velocity resulting in a hard (and exciting!) landing," SpaceX said. "Thank you to all the locals supporting our efforts in Cameron County and beyond. Congratulations to the entire Starship and SpaceX teams on today’s test! Serial number 9 [Starship SN9] is up next – Mars, here we come!” the company stated.
12 story rocket turns off its engines & does a controlled fall https://t.co/HCRgyx42rn— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 24, 2020
On January 26, Musk shared the company is still waiting for Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approval to launch Starship SN9 in South Texas. Excitement is building among space enthusiasts over Starship SN9's upcoming flight. The 50-meter-tall stainless-steel vehicle will perform a high-altitude flight test of approximately 12.5-kilometers above Boca Chica Beach, replicating SN8’s flight path (as seen in the video above) but this time SpaceX will try to land the vehicle intact. Musk initially planned to launch the vehicle early this week, its likely that high winds delayed the vehicles’ flight plan. For the past couple of days the weather has been very windy and foggy in the area. SpaceX fans have been bombarding Musk with memes and questions asking when Starship SN9 will 'hop' (launch). “We’re hoping for FAA approval of a test flight tomorrow afternoon,” Musk shared via Twitter earlier today, he later offered an update in response to a meme of ‘Kermit the frog’ captioned ‘Waiting for hop’. “Waiting for FAA review …” Musk replied, pictured below.
Waiting for FAA review …— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 26, 2021
The waiting time allowed SpaceX to test a propellant tank this afternoon. Engineers conducted a proof test of a tank identified as SN7.2. The stainless-steel dome tank underwent a cryogenic pressurization test that subjected the structure to the kind of pressure it would experience when filled with subchilled propellants. Starship’s Raptor engines are fueled by cryogenic liquid methane (CH4) and liquid oxygen (LOX), however, during proof tests the tanks are filled with inert gas, liquid nitrogen (LN2). Musk shared SN7.2 “Passed initial pressure test.” The dome is expected to undergo more pressure testing in the days ahead. You can watch SpaceX operations leading to launch day Live 24/7 in the video below, courtesy of LabPadre via YouTube.
SpaceX pressure tests the Starship SN7.2 tank at the South Texas Launch Site –Watch It Live!https://t.co/2t7Myjzd4Y— Tesmanian.com (@Tesmanian_com) January 26, 2021
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.