SpaceX: Starship SN10 successfully lands in Texas
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SpaceX fans have been eagerly anticipating the launch of the latest Starship test. Elon Musk had wanted the launch to take place in the week commencing March 15, but the test did not come to fruition. In the week just passed, SpaceX had also wanted to launch but has been plagued by setbacks.
This culminated in a static fire test on March 26, after which Mr Musk said “additional checkouts” will be needed before the SN11 takes to the sky.
A static fire test sees all the engines lit up as the rocket remains stationary on the ground.
However, following a weekend of data reviews and testing, SpaceX could finally launch the SN11 tomorrow, on March 29.
The company has not provided a specific time for the launch, but it will take place between 7am and 3pm local time (1pm and 9pm BST).
SpaceX said: “As early as Monday, March 29, the SpaceX team will attempt a high-altitude flight test of Starship serial number 11 (SN11) – our fourth high-altitude flight test of a Starship prototype from Starbase in Texas.
“Similar to previous high-altitude flight tests of Starship, SN11 will be powered through ascent by three Raptor engines, each shutting down in sequence prior to the vehicle reaching apogee – approximately 10 km in altitude.
“SN11 will perform a propellant transition to the internal header tanks, which hold landing propellant, before reorienting itself for reentry and a controlled aerodynamic descent.
“The Starship prototype will descend under active aerodynamic control, accomplished by independent movement of two forward and two aft flaps on the vehicle.
“All four flaps are actuated by an onboard flight computer to control Starship’s attitude during flight and enable precise landing at the intended location.
“SN11’s Raptor engines will then reignite as the vehicle attempts a landing flip manoeuvre immediately before touching down on the landing pad adjacent to the launch mount.”
SpaceX will be hosting a live stream of the event on its website, stating it will kick off “a few minutes prior to lift-off”.
Cameron County, the area in which the Boca Chica testing site is located, has yet to issue any road closure announcements for next week, however.
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SpaceX will be determined to ensure the SN11 does not suffer the same fate as the SN8, SN9 and SN10, which all exploded when landing.
Starship will need to become fully operational sooner rather than later if Mr Musk is to realise his dreams of getting to Mars before the end of the decade.
Just this week, the South African-born billionaire said on Twitter: “SpaceX will be landing Starships on Mars well before 2030.”
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