Featured Image Source: Adrian Aguilar @SpxAdrian via Twitter
Starship will be SpaceX’s next-generation spacecraft developed to take astronauts back to the Moon and to Mars. Early December, SpaceX performed an incredible high-altitude test flight of a Starship test vehicle known as ‘SN8’. Starship SN8 soared approximately 40,000 feet above Boca Chica Beach in South Texas, propelled by three powerful methane-fueled Raptor engines. The incredible debut test flight showcased SpaceX’s engineering talent as the stainless-steel SN8 vehicle shutdown its engines and performed a ‘belly flip’ maneuver while gliding down the sky. Starship SN8 was the first vehicle to test aerodynamic flaps in-flight. Even though the vehicle exploded upon landing, the test flight offered engineers insight towards the spacecraft’s overall development.
SN9 being worked on and looking healthy 🚀 pic.twitter.com/fSM3KH7gSB— Adrian Aguilar (@SpxAdrian) December 28, 2020
Teams at Boca Chica are rapidly manufacturing multiple stainless-steel Starship prototypes, each will undergo testing. SpaceX plans to launch the next Starship prototype – SN9 – soon (pictured above). According to Cameron County Boca Chica Beach road closure announcements, preflight testing is underway. SpaceX plans to initiate preflight preparations of the Starship SN9 test vehicle starting tonight December 28 during timeframes scheduled from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Central Time. Preflight operations include a routine series of tests meant to assess if the Starship SN9 vehicle is ready to take flight. Testing dates are scheduled from December 29 through January 6. The first preparation is expected to be a proof test, during which the stainless-steel vehicle will be filled with sub-chilled liquid nitrogen that will cause SN9 to experience the kind of pressure it would experience in-flight. If cryogenic pressurization goes smoothly, Starship SN9 will move to the next preflight test, which involves a static-firing of its Raptor engine trio. During a static-fire test, Starship SN9’s engines will be briefly ignited as the vehicle is grounded to the launch pad. After all preflight testing is completed, early next year Starship SN9 could perform a similar test flight as SN8 - lets see if SN9 will ace the landing!
Image Source: Steve Jurvetson @FutureJurvetson via Twitter
SpaceX aims to have a space-ready Starship before the year 2023. The company’s first private customer, a Japanese entrepreneur named Yusaku Maezawa, purchased a voyage around the Moon by then. He dreams of inviting his favorite artists on the space tour to create inspiring art during the voyage. NASA is also investing in Starship’s development. The agency contracted SpaceX to develop a Starship Lunar Lander to take astronauts back to the Moon by 2024. Boca Chica visitors have spotted the first prototype of the lunar-optimized NASA Starship at the rocket assembly facility, pictured above. 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.