SpaceX: Starship SN10 successfully lands in Texas
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Elon Musk’s company was pegged to launch the Starship prototype on Wednesday afternoon after attempting a static fire test of SN11’s engines on Monday. The rocket that could one day carry humans to Mars is due to launch on its first suborbital flight, following in the footsteps of the Starship SN8, SN9 and SN10. An eight-hour launch window was pencilled in for Wednesday after road closures were scheduled around SpaceX’s Boca Chica facility in South Texas.
Backup closures were also scheduled for Thursday but both were called off for unspecified reasons.
SpaceX fans are now clinging to hopes Friday could be the day SN11 earns its wings.
Michael Baylor, a live stream producer for NASASpaceFlight, tweeted: “The road closure for Starship SN11’s test flight on Thursday has been cancelled.
“There is currently a Temporary Flight Restriction scheduled for Friday, but no road closures.”
Will the Starship SN11 launch on Friday?
Friday is the earliest Starship could launch, although it seems unlikely the rocket will fly before the week is over.
The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued a temporary flight restriction (TFR) for Friday and Saturday – but these are never a guarantee of flight.
The TFR is not backed by road closures tomorrow, which are issued by Cameron County Judge Eddie Trevino Jr.
It is, however, possible SpaceX will attempt another static fire test on Friday.
Elon Musk discusses future of SpaceX's Starship system
During a static fire test, Starship’s engines are briefly fired at full throttle.
But rather than blast off into the skies, the rocket remains firmly tethered to the ground.
One of SN11’s engines was reportedly removed for repairs, forcing SpaceX to push back its launch date.
Mr Baylor tweeted on Thursday: “SpaceX will conduct a second static fire test after one of the three Raptor engines on Starship SN11 had to be removed for repairs.
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“The static fire could occur as soon as Friday, pending Raptor readiness and road closures.”
Engine replacements have become a common theme with the Starship rocket, which is still in development.
Both the SN9 and SN10 had their tests delayed after static fire tests exposed issues with the Raptor engines.
SpaceX fans are desperate to see the SN11 in action after the previous iteration, the SN10, came close to acing its first test flight.
The spacecraft launched to an altitude of about 6.2 miles (10km) after which it touched back down at Boca Chica in one piece.
But the 164ft-tall (50m) rocket was damaged by the landing and blew up in a ball of fire eight minutes after touchdown.
Shortly after the explosion, Mr Musk vowed fixes would be applied to the SN11 to avoid the same error.
If SN11 aces its first flight, Starship could be well on its way for its first orbital flight.
SpaceX hopes to reach orbit before the year is over, launching Starship on top of the Super Heavy booster rocket.
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