Featured Image Source: @SpacePadreIsle via Twitter
Engineering teams at the SpaceX South Texas Launch Facility in Boca Chica Beach are working to develop – Starship, a next-generation launch vehicle that could one day return humans to the moon and transport the first astronauts to Mars. The founder of SpaceX Elon Musk shared the company aims to take the first astronauts to the Martian surface in four to six years. “… I feel fairly confident about six years from now. […] Earth Mars synchronization occurs roughly every 26 months,” he said, in reference to the launch opportunity that arises every 26 months when Mars and Earth's orbit get closer to each other to enable a shorter-duration voyage. “…If we get lucky maybe four years. We want to try to send an uncrewed vehicle there [Mars] in two years.” By 2024 a Starship could be ready to launch cargo to the Red Planet and the first astronauts could land on the Martian surface by 2026.
SpaceX’s ambitious goal to make life multiplanetary has inspired many from across the world. Space enthusiasts cannot wait until SpaceX launches the first fully-assembled Starship prototype that resembles the spacecraft’s original design. The prototype, dubbed SN8 (Serial No.8), is the first stainless-steel vehicle that features three powerful, methane-fueled Raptor engines and aerodynamic flaps that will be tested during a 12-kilometer test flight (equivalent to around 40,000 feet). SpaceX initially aimed to perform the test flight this week, but a cold front rolled into the southernmost tip of Texas this weekend. The excitement is building up in South Texas as SpaceX continues to prepare Starship SN8 for a debut flight. Dozens of spaceflight photographers from across the United States traveled to South Padre Island, Texas, and have been waiting for almost a week for SpaceX to launch the shiny Starship SN8 vehicle.
According to Boca Chica Village residents, SpaceX could conduct the final pre-flight preparation as soon as tomorrow. A resident who lives behind the SpaceX assembly site, goes by ‘BocaChicaGal’ via Twitter, shared she received an ‘Alert’ letter that announces the company plans to conduct major testing tomorrow, Sunday. “To Residents or Occupants of Boca Chica Village: SpaceX will conduct Space Flight Activities on December 6, 2020 from 8:00am to 5:30pm [Central Time],” the letter reads, “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. There is a risk that a malfunction of the SpaceX vehicle during these activities will create an overpressure event that can break windows. Therefore, in order to protect Public Health and Safety, it is recommended that you consider temporarily vacating yourself, other occupants, and pets, from the area during the Space Flight Activities. At a minimum, you must exit your home or structure and be outside of any building on your property when you hear the police sirens, which will be activated at the time of the Space Flight Activity, to avoid or minimize the risk of injury. Thank you for your ongoing cooperation,” SpaceX wrote in the letter to residents (pictured below).
Just received an Alert notice for tomorrow for Starship SN8 testing. SpaceX will conduct Space Flight Activities on December 6, from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Typically, we receive these notices prior to a preburner or static fire attempt. No hop tomorrow. @NASASpaceflight pic.twitter.com/KTOrm182Bu— Mary (@BocaChicaGal) December 5, 2020
The pre-flight preparation test planned for Sunday is expected to be a static-fire test, which involves the brief ignition of Starship SN8’s powerful Raptor engines. During the firing engineers will assess each engines’ performance. If the test goes smoothly, Starship SN8 could take flight sometime from December 7 to December 9 during launch windows scheduled at 8:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. CST. daily, according to the city’s beach closure announcements [date is subject to change]. You can watch SpaceX operations Live in the video below, courtesy of LabPadre via YouTube.
WATCH IT LIVE!
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.