SpaceX is planning a Starship check flight subsequent week, with Elon Musk providing a 1 in Three chance of an intact touchdown
The Starship SN8 prototype SpaceX rocket faces an engine test on the company’s launchpad in Boca Chica, Texas.
SpaceX is aiming to launch its newest Starship rocket prototype “next week,” CEO Elon Musk said Tuesday in the company’s most ambitious flight test to date for the rocket.
Musk confirmed that the Starship prototype Serial Number 8 or SN8 successfully completed a test shot of its three engines prior to attempting flight. This next launch is aimed at reaching an altitude of around 50,000 feet – well above the 500-foot flights of the prototype’s predecessors, SN5 and SN6, which completed flight tests on August 5 and September 3, respectively.
The prototypes are made of stainless steel and represent the first versions of the rocket that Musk introduced last year. The company is developing Starship with the aim of bringing cargo and up to 100 people simultaneously on missions to the moon and Mars.
SpaceX aims to achieve several milestones in further development with the flight of the Starship SN8.
“The goal is to test the rise of 3 engines, the body flaps, the transition from the main tank to the collection tank and the landing flip,” Musk said in a tweet.
When asked what he thought of the chances of the Starship prototype landing intact after the flight, Musk gave the SN8 little chance of complete success on the first try.
“A lot of things have to go right, so maybe a 1/3 chance,” said Musk.
“But that’s why we have the SN 9 & SN10,” added Musk.
These later prototypes are already in the works at SpaceX’s growing facility in Boca Chica, Texas. While the SpaceX fleet of Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets are partially reusable, Musk’s goal is to make Starship fully reusable – introducing a rocket that is more like an airliner with short turnaround times between flights where the the only major cost are fuel.
Musk said the SN9 and SN10 have “many small improvements” with “major upgrades” planned once SpaceX begins work on the prototype SN15.
SpaceX’s first Starship prototype under construction near Boca Chica, Texas in 2019.
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