SpaceX: Camera feed freezes upon Starship SN11 landing
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SpaceX has been preparing the SN15 for launch in the past few weeks, looking for the ideal time to blast the rocket into the skies. The SN15 has been on the launchpad at Boca Chica, Texas, since the disastrous flight of the SN11 on March 30.
Now, official documents seem to show April 20 as the date on which Elon Musk’s company will launch the SN15.
Documents submitted to the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) show SpaceX asking for “special temporary authority” (STA) to operate the SN15 on April 20.
However, the document goes on to say the STA could last for up to 60 days.
The document reads: “SpaceX request special temporary authority to operate a single user terminal within 5km of Boca Chica Village, TX, on an experimental basis at altitudes not to exceed 12.5km.
“The authority requested herein will be sharply limited in duration: SpaceX requests to operate under this STA for a period of 60 days, beginning April 20, 2020 [SIC], or the date on which the STA requested herein is granted, whichever is later.
“These operations will only occur on the ground or during test flights of durations not to exceed eight minutes.”
SpaceX has already attempted to launch four Starship prototypes, but all ended in a ball of flames.
SpaceX fans had been eagerly anticipating the launch of the SN11 following weeks of delays to the scheduled lift-off.
At 2pm BST on March 30, the rocket finally took to the skies.
While the SN11 cruised at an altitude of 10 kilometres, its rockets slowly shut down mid-flight.
Unfortunately for SpaceX, the company could not manage to get the three rockets back on until the SN11 was almost at the ground, where it landed on its side.
A huge explosion ensued, as captured by NASA Space Flight as the SN11 cameras shut down, with debris raining across the launch site.
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The company would have hoped to make progress on its attempts to successfully land Starship, as the SN8, SN9 and SN10 all also exploded as they touched down.
The next Starship prototype to launch will be the SN15.
SpaceX had built the SN12, but parts of it have been scrapped.
The SN13 and SN14 had parts made for it, but SpaceX decided to not complete the rockets.
Instead, it will jump straight to the SN15, which SpaceX chief Mr Musk says has improved capabilities and will be the company’s best chance at landing.
While the SN15 will be fitted with small changes, eccentric billionaire Mr Musk said the next major review will come when the SN20 launches.
However, even he is not confident the SN20 will be a complete success, stating the later batch of Starships will take a more challenging flight.
Mr Musk added: “Next major technology rev is at SN20. Those ships will be orbit-capable with heat shield & stage separation system. Ascent success probability is high.
“However, SN20+ vehicles will probably need many flight attempts to survive Mach 25 entry heating & land intact.”
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