South Texas space enthusiasts could soon see another SpaceX Starship prototype take flight above Boca Chica Beach. Engineers continue to prepare the stainless-steel Starship SN15 prototype is at the launch pad where it will undergo pre-flight testing. The vehicle already passed a cryogenic proof test earlier this month, the next test will be a static-firing ahead of taking flight. SpaceX sent out letters to Boca Chica village residents stating that it plans to conduct the engine ignition test next week. –“SpaceX will conduct Space Flight Activities on April 26th, 2021 from 12:00pm to 8:00pm. [Central Time] Approximately 10 minutes prior to the activity, you will be provided notice by the sounding of a police siren in Boca Chica Village. There may be more than one instance during that time period where you will hear a siren notification,” the company wrote in the ‘Alert’ notice letter asking the residents to temporarily vacate the area, shown below. During the static-fire test engineers will briefly ignite Starship SN15’s three methane-fueled Raptor engines to assess their performance.
I have received an Alert notice and there is a road and beach closure scheduled from noon - 8 p.m. on Monday, April 26. 🤞Possible static fire attempt of Starship SN15’s Raptor engines tomorrow. 🤞🚀🔥@NASASpaceflight pic.twitter.com/ungUt4gIfL— Mary (@BocaChicaGal) April 25, 2021
SpaceX founder Elon Musk says Starship SN15 features “hundreds of design improvements” across structures, including “avionics/software and engine.” Starship SN15 also features an improved thrust puck design for its Raptors. Some of the improvements are meant to address issues previous vehicles experienced during test flights. The four previous Starships that conducted a high-altitude flight into an altitude of approximately 10-kilometers, all exploded upon attempting to land. SpaceX will try to land SN15 intact after a controlled aerodynamic flight. The next flight test could potentially be next week, if SN15 passes the static-fire test that is planned for Monday. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) posted a Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) notice that states SpaceX could potentially launch Starship SN15 on Tuesday, April 27 or Wednesday, April 28 [dates are subject to change].
Starship SN15 also features an unexpected addition, engineers attached a Starlink dish antenna to the stainless-steel vehicle. SpaceX asked the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for permission to operate the dish during the upcoming flight test to assess Starlink internet performance during launch. “SpaceX requests Special Temporary Authority to operate a single user terminal within 5 km [kilometers] of Boca Chica Village, TX (26.00°N, -97.16°W) on an experimental basis at altitudes not to exceed 12.5 km. The authority requested herein will be sharply limited in duration: SpaceX requests to operate under this STA for a period of only 60 days, beginning on April 20 …” SpaceX wrote to the FCC in the filing. “These operations will only occur on the ground or during test flights of durations not to exceed eight minutes. This user terminal will be electrically identical to earth stations already authorized under SpaceX's blanket earth station authorization as well as its pending application for experimental authorization to operate a limited number of user terminals aboard aircraft,” the company wrote. Musk envisions utilizing Starlink internet communication onboard moving vehicles like aircraft, vessels at sea, large trucks and RV’s, even onboard the Starship spacecraft in transit to the Moon & Mars. The future SpaceX is building is definitely exciting! You can watch SpaceX launch operations Live in the video below, courtesy of LabPadre via YouTube.
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.