Featured Image Source: @SpacePadreIsle via Twitter
The founder of SpaceX Elon Musk has his eyes set on Mars. “You want to wake up in the morning and think the future is going to be great and that's what being a spacefaring civilization is all about,” he says, “It's about believing in the future and thinking that the future will be better than the past. And I can't think of anything more exciting than going out there and being among the stars.” His aerospace company has developed some of the world’s most advanced rockets and spacecraft. This year, SpaceX officially returned human spaceflight capabilities to the United States. The company’s Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft safely transported NASA astronauts to the International Space Station on two separate missions.
Musk and his teams are working to develop the next-generation launch vehicle that will enable humans to colonize the Red Planet. SpaceX is developing a two-stage, stainless-steel Starship spacecraft that will propel to orbit with a giant Super Heavy rocket. Starship will be capable of transporting 100 passengers on long-duration voyages to the Red Planet. Starship is under development at Boca Chica, a small South Texas beach village in the city of Brownsville, located along the border of Mexico, near South Padre Island, TX. Musk calls Boca Chica Beach the “Gateway to Mars.” He envisions transforming the piece of sandy land into a ‘21st Century Spaceport’ and ‘SpaceX Resort’ where employees will enjoy living while they work towards creating a spacefaring future for humanity.
This evening, Musk shared the company’s next Starship prototype will perform a debut test flight soon. Starship SN8 (Serial No.8) is a stainless-steel prototype that is undergoing pre-flight preparations to conduct the first high-altitude test flight in South Texas. For the past couple of weeks, engineers have been working to prepare Starship’s trio of Raptor engines. Raptors are a new type of engine, fueled by a combination of cryogenic methane and liquid oxygen.
SpaceX’s StarShip SN8 has successfully completed a Static Fire! pic.twitter.com/hSAqW2eOcX— Austin Barnard🚀 (@austinbarnard45) November 24, 2020
Today, November 24, Starship’s engines underwent a static-fire test to assess its performance. During the test, engineers fueled the vehicle and briefly ignited the Raptors as the Starship SN8 vehicle remained grounded to a test stand at the South Texas Launch Facility launchpad (video above). –“Good Starship SN8 static fire! Aiming for first 15km / ~50k ft altitude flight next week,” Musk announced via Twitter. “Goals are to test 3 engine ascent, body flaps, transition from main to header tanks & landing flip,” he said.
That was epic!!! pic.twitter.com/DmmpcTYNZ1— SPadre (@SpacePadreIsle) November 25, 2020
But that’s why we have SN 9 & SN10— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 25, 2020
Starship SN8 will be the first stainless-steel test vehicle that will be fully assembled, featuring a top nose cone section and aerodynamic flaps – that look like the spacecraft's original design, as pictured above. The company is building multiple prototypes at the Boca Chica assembly facility, where two test vehicles, SN5 and SN6, have already completed low-altitude test flights. These vehicles did not look like a spacecraft, they looked like a shiny cylinder structure tank, with a square mass simulator atop. Each lifted off 150-meters off the ground and conducted vertical landings at the launch pad powered by a single methane-fueled Raptor engine. Starship SN8 will be the first test vehicle - that looks like a spaceship - to attempt a higher altitude test flight of around 15-kilometers (km), equivalent to 50,000 feet (ft)!
A reporter asked Musk, “How are you feeling about Starship’s chances of landing in one piece?” To which he responded, “Lot of things need to go right, so maybe 1/3 chance. But that’s why we have SN 9 & SN10,” he wrote. Starship SN9 and Starship SN10 are the next prototypes in line, under assembly a couple of miles down the road from the launch pad. Musk said these two prototypes feature “many small improvements, but overall similar. Wiring is more robust, engines are more mature, nosecone is sealed better, etc,” he shared, “Major upgrades are slated for SN15.”
Major upgrades are slated for SN15— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 25, 2020
According to Cameron County Boca Chica Beach closure announcements, SpaceX could attempt to perform Starship SN8’s debut test flight sometime on November 30th from 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. CST. Back-up launch opportunity dates are scheduled for December 1st and 2nd from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Central Time. You can watch SpaceX South Texas launch operations Live 24/7 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.