Imagine a future where humans are capable of frequently traveling between Earth and Mars… SpaceX is developing the technology and spacecraft that will make that possible. “You want to wake up in the morning and think the future is going to be great - and that’s what being a spacefaring civilization is all about. It’s about believing in the future and thinking that the future will be better than the past. And I can’t think of anything more exciting than going out there and being among the stars,” the founder of SpaceX Elon Musk says.
In Boca Chica village, at the southernmost tip of Texas, SpaceX is manufacturing prototypes of the Starship launch vehicle that could one day change the course of humanity's future forever. Engineers work around-the-clock to develop the Starship spacecraft in our lifetime. They target to have a space-ready Starship in less than 3-years. SpaceX plans to launch artists on a voyage around the Moon by the year 2023 and perform the first cargo mission to Mars by 2024. If they achieve this, we could see the first astronauts set foot on the Red Planet as soon as 2026. SpaceX has a lot of work to do until then. The company is testing multiple Starship prototypes at Boca Chica Beach where the SN9 prototype is currently awaiting a flight test. Starship SN9 already underwent a series of preflight preparations, including proof tests to ensure its stainless-steel design is strong enough to withstand the stress it would experience in-flight. SN9 also went through several ignition tests of its Raptor engine trio. After experiencing some issues with two out of three Raptors last week, SpaceX engineers swapped the engines quickly and proceeded to perform a static-fire test. Most recently, on Friday, SpaceX fired Starship SN9’s engines during a static-fire test that lasted a few seconds. Soon after the ignition test, Musk shared a photograph of SN9’s engines ignited, with an orange glow, pictured below. Musk said Saturday morning that Starship SN9 could be launched –“Hopefully, early next week.”
Hopefully, early next week— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 23, 2021
According to Temporary Flight Restriction publications by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) SpaceX could potentially launch Starship SN9 on a high-altitude test flight as soon as Monday. Three NOTAM notices, published to alert pilots not to fly in a particular area, indicate SpaceX targets to fly Starship SN9 any day between Monday, January 25 through Wednesday, January 27. SN9 is expected to follow its predecessor's flight path. During the amazing Starship SN8 launch, the stainless-steel vehicle lifted off approximately 40,000 feet (12-kilometers) powered by three Raptor engines which were shutdown mid-flight to perform a ‘belly flip’ landing maneuver. Starship SN8 fell down the sky gracefully, guided by its aerodynamic flaps. –“12 story rocket turns off its engines and does a controlled fall,” Musk said in December after SN8's flight test. However, SN8 exploded after landing, SpaceX will attempt to ace the landing during SN9’s upcoming flight. Each test takes the company closer to developing a space-ready spaceship. You can watch SpaceX operations leading to launch day Live 24/7 in the video below, courtesy of LabPadre via YouTube. [All dates are subject to change.]
WATCH IT LIVE!
Featured Image Source: Elon Musk
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.