SpaceX is preparing to test Starship SN10’s engines after it passed a proof test

SpaceX is preparing to test Starship SN10’s engines after it passed a proof test

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SpaceX’s ultimate goal is to make life multiplanetary. Engineers are developing Starship at the South Texas Launch Facility. Multiple stainless-steel prototypes of the spacecraft have performed flight tests. To date SpaceX has performed five flight tests, three low-altitude and two high-altitude flights. The most recent launches were performed in December and February by Starship SN8 and Starship SN9, vehicles that resemble the spacecraft’s design. The pair reached an altitude of around 10-kilometers, performed the 'first-of-its-kind landing flip maneuver’ guided by aerodynamic flaps while their Raptor engines were shutdown then reignited in sequence before landing. Both vehicles experienced issues before landing ending their incredible six-minute flights with a giant explosion at Boca Chica Beach. The flights provided engineers with valuable insight on how to improve the spacecraft. The SN8 vehicle exploded due to a loss of pressure in its header tank, and SN9 blew up because one of the three Raptor engines did not relight on time upon landing.

Engineers will test out more prototypes this year. Starship SN10 is undergoing preflight preparations to be launched, as SN11 is under assembly inside a giant hangar at the rocket factory, pictured above. SpaceX is working rapidly to launch the next Starship prototype, they will use all lessons learned from previous flights to try to ace the landing. Starship SN10’s test campaign initiated on Monday to prepare the vehicle for a high-altitude flight test. The first prefight preparation was a cryogenic proof test to assess if the vehicle can withstand the stresses it would experience in flight. During the test on February 8, Starship SN10 was filled with subchilled liquid nitrogen to pressurize the structure. NASAspaceflight reporters captured footage of the cryogenic proof test, video shown below. 


The next test will involve fueling the Raptor engines with real cryogenic propellants, liquid methane and liquid oxygen. Engineers will briefly ignite the engine trio while the vehicle remains grounded to a test stand, held down by hold-down clamps. According to Boca Chica Beach road closure announcements, SpaceX could perform a static-fire test as soon as tomorrow, February 11, during a timeframe scheduled for 12:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Central Time. A backup test opportunity is also scheduled for Friday. A Boca Chica resident also received an ‘Alert’ notice letter from SpaceX stating they plan to perform testing as soon as tomorrow, pictured below.

SpaceX ambitiously hopes to achieve developing Starship before the year 2023. The company’s first Starship passenger, a Japanese entrepreneur Yusaku Maezawa, is helping fund the spacecraft’s development; he booked a voyage around the Moon by then. Starship will require a giant Super Heavy rocket booster to propel it to orbit, the company is already building the first prototype of the booster, as well as an orbital launch pad. SpaceX founder Elon Musk recently shared the company’s top Starship-related priorities are: “1. Orbital launch tower that can stack, 2. Enough Raptors for orbit booster, 3. Improve ship & booster mass,” he wrote via Twitter. You can watch SpaceX South Texas operations Live 24/7 in the video below, courtesy of LabPadre via YouTube.




Image Source: / photographer: Evelyn J. Arevalo via Twitter

About the Author

Evelyn Arevalo

Evelyn Arevalo

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.

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