Featured Image Source: TESMANIAN.com
SpaceX is performing pre-flight preparations of the Starship SN8 prototype that is expected to fly 50,000 feet (~15 kilometers) above Boca Chica Beach in South Texas. Starship will be SpaceX's next-generation launch vehicle capable of perfroming long-duration voyages to Mars. Engineers are building multiple stainless-steel Starship prototypes. Each will undergo similar testing to improve the vehicles design until it is ready to be launched to space.
Starship SN8 will be the first prototype to perform a test flight featuring aerodynamic fins and three powerful Raptor engines. Raptors are fueled by cryogenic methane and liquid oxygen, which can be made on Mars upon arrival. Future Martian colonizers could create fuel by taking carbon dioxide from the planet's thin atmospere and subsurface ice-water to create fuel via the Sabatier process.
On October 20, teams performed the first static-firing in which the Starship SN8's three Raptor engines where briefly ignited for the first time, utilizing fuel from the main propellant tank. Starship features two propellant tanks - a main one that holds most of the propellant and a 'header tank' that is a smaller tank that holds fuel reserves that can fuel the vehicle upon landing. A header tank for liquid oxygen is also located inside the vehicle's top nose cone section. SpaceX will soon perform another Starship SN8 Raptor engine test, that may be the final major pre-flight preparation before the vehicle takes flight. Teams have stacked SN8's top nose cone section to conduct a second static-fire test that will now utilize the liquid oxygen header tank system to fuel the engines. According to Boca Chica road closure announcements, the static-fire test could take place on October 28 during a time frame that begins at 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. CDT. A back-up test opportunity scheduled for October 29 at the same time, and another for October 30 from 5:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. CDT [local time]. You can watch SpaceX operations at the South Texas launch facility LIVE 24/7 in the Video below, courtesy of LabPadre via YouTube.
WATCH IT LIVE!