Elon Musk discusses future of SpaceX's Starship system
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SpaceX is expected to test its latest Starship rocket that could one day carry humans to Mars just weeks after its SN9 iteration crashed into the launchpad at Boca Chica, South Texas. SN10 or Serial Number 10 is the latest model in a line of expendable models SpaceX has been trying to launch and land at its Texas facility. So far, the tests have been disastrous with the SN8 and SN9 models failing to stick the landing.
SpaceX, however, seems to think the glass is half-full, claiming each successive launch only serves to strengthen and inform the next.
SpaceX chief Elon Musk, 49, himself admitted it would have been far more unusual not to see the rockets crash.
Fans are now hoping SpaceX has learned its lessons and SN10 will be the first spacecraft prototype to ace both launch and landing.
One person said: “@Erdayastronaut I think this SN10 flight has a high probability of landing.
“So SN8 had a pressure problem in the header tanks. They fixed that.
“Now to SN9. It had an engine failure. So hopefully they fix that problem. If they do it will land.”
Will the Starship SN10 launch this week?
Before the Starship prototype launches on its maiden flight, SpaceX will still need to carry out a static fire test of Starship’s Raptor engines.
During a static fire test, Starship briefly fires its engines at full throttle while firmly tethered to the ground.
And though SpaceX has not announced when this test will take place, road closures around Boca Chica suggest it could be imminent.
Cameron County Judge Eddie Trevino Jr has scheduled road closures for Monday, with backup windows on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The closures are in effect on all three days between 3pm and midnight GMT (9am and 6pm local time).
The closures are most certainly for the static fire test as they mention “SpaceX non-flight testing activities”.
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Judge Trevino said: “Should SpaceX not complete its planned non-flight testing on February 22, 2021, then SpaceX may use the alternate dates to complete its testing activities.”
However, SpaceX fans should also prepare for the possibility of unscheduled delays.
The launch of the SN9 was delayed numerous times all throughout January and hazardous weather conditions have plagued Texas this month.
Once the Starship prototype takes to the skies, SN10 will soar to an altitude of at least 6.2 miles (10km) before diving to the ground belly-side down.
The rocket will then flip upright again and attempt to gently touch back down on the launch pad.
Starships SN8 and SN9 aced the belly-flop parts of their test flights but stumbled at the last hurdle.
The unusual landing sequence will allow Starship to land on worlds like Mars where there are no launch pads or airstrips.
Mr Musk has envisioned a fleet of Starship rockets that will one day carry human colonists to the Red Planet.
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