SpaceX Starship explodes on landing during a test
Starship SN10 is the latest iteration of the prototype spacecraft being built at SpaceX’s facilities in Boca Chica, South Texas. The last two Starship models, SN9 and SN8, were met with a swift demise after their very first high-altitude test flights saw the rockets crash into the launch pad. SN9’s maiden voyage ended in a spectacular ball of flames less than a week ago and SN8 blew up in December last year.
SpaceX fans are now focusing their attention on the SN10, hoping this 160ft (50m) prototype could finally be the one to stick the landing on its first launch attempt, and luck could be on its side.
When SN9 was blown to smithereens last Tuesday, the SN10 stood right next to it but escaped unharmed.
Boca Chica resident and NASASpaceFlight contributor Mary has now confirmed SN10 was fitted with three Raptor engines since SN9’s crash.
The engine update, paired with road closures scheduled around Boca Chica between Monday and Friday suggest SN10 is ready to begin pre-flight testing.
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Will Starship SN10 launch this week:
Cameron County Judge Eddie Trevino Jr has scheduled road closures in Boca Chica for Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
The closures are in effect between 3pm and 12am GMT (9am and 6pm CST) on the first three days, and then from 1pm to 6pm GMT (7am to 12pm CST) on Friday.
The closures cite “SpaceX testing activities” on all four days.
Judge Trevino said: “Should SpaceX not complete its planned space flight activities on February 8, 2021, then SpaceX may use alternate dates to complete its test launch activities.”
However, before SN10 can take to the skies, SpaceX will need to complete a static fire and possible pressurisation test.
Static fire tests involve strapping the rocket down to the ground and briefly firing its engines.
If the static fire is wrapped in the next two days, there is a chance Starship could attempt to fly before the week is over.
SpaceX chief Elon Musk, 49, has previously spoken about his plan to build one Starship a week – an incredibly rapid turnover that hints at SpaceX’s multi-planetary ambitions.
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The goal is to have a fleet of Starship rockets capable of launching multiple times in a single day.
Speed, Mr Musk believes, will be key to colonising the Red Planet Mars.
But if SpaceX wants to launch its latest prototype this week, the company will need secure permission from the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
The FAA has so far issued flight restrictions around Boca Chica for Monday through to Tuesday, citing “space operations”, but this is not necessarily a go for launch.
Last week, Mr Musk took aim at the FAA after a breakdown in communication between the two led to the FAA grounding SN9’s test flight.
It also emerged SpaceX faced an investigation from the regulator over SN9’s failed landing attempt.
If SpaceX goes ahead with another launch attempt this week, the company will likely host a live broadcast of the flight that you will be able to watch here.
Follow Express.co.uk for the latest SpaceX and Starship news.
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