Featured Image Source: TESMANIAN.com
SpaceX’s goal to make life multiplanetary gets closer to becoming a reality with every test engineers perform towards the Starship spacecraft’s development. The company aims to make flying stainless-steel Starship prototypes routine at the SpaceX South Texas Launch Facility to accomplish having a space-ready Starship in less than two years. This week, SpaceX is continuing preflight preparations ahead of launching another Starship test vehicle. Cameron County announced SpaceX scheduled January 6 to perform preflight tests from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Central Time. Starship SN9, the next prototype set to take flight, is undergoing preparations at the Boca Chica Beach launch site for the past couple of weeks.
Preflight operations include a routine series of tests meant to assess if the Starship SN9 vehicle is ready to fly. Teams already performed a cryogenic pressure test meant to assess the vehicle’s strength last week. The next test will be a static-firing, in which the vehicle’s Raptor engine performance will be assessed with cryogenic methane and liquid oxygen propellants as engines are briefly ignited. If preflight testing goes as planned, SpaceX could test launch Starship SN9 as soon as this weekend. According to a to a Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) notice published by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), SpaceX has permission to test launch Starship SN9 no earlier than Friday, January 8 [date is subject to change]. TFRs for backup launch opportunities are also scheduled for Saturday, January 9 and Sunday, January 10. Starship SN9 is expected to perform a high-altitude test flight, similar to its predecessor SN8, that lifted off approximately 40,000 feet (12 kilometers) above Boca Chica’s sandy beach (pictured above).
Source: Federal Aviation Administration
During the previous test flight, the SN8 vehicle performed the first-of-its-kind aerodynamic ‘belly flip’ maneuver as it glided with its engines off down the sky. Starship SN8 ignited its engines to perform a controlled landing and exploded due to its upper propellant tank loosing pressure. Now, engineers aim to replicate the incredible test flight with Starship SN9 – this time they will attempt to land intact. You can watch SpaceX operations leading to launch day Live 24/7 in the video below, courtesy of LabPadre via YouTube.
WATCH IT LIVE!