SpaceX Starship explodes whilst attempting to land during test

SpaceX completed a pre-flight wet rehearsal on Wednesday, with an unexpected triple-engine test of the Starship Serial Number 9 (SN9). The stainless steel rocket fired its three Raptor engines for seconds at a time while remaining firmly tethered to the ground. Hopes are now high SpaceX will wrap up its Launch Readiness Review (LRR) over the weekend and launch the Starship prototype at the start of next week.

One SpaceX fan tweeted: “Hey @elonmusk any way we can get a feature to display/listen to the Starship countdown/launch?

“Would love to boombox it for the crowd in SPI even have it go straight to Rocket Man at T-Minus 0. Would be fun for everyone watching!”

Another person said: “Launch deprivation has worse effects on us space nerds than sleep deprivation.

“Also, as a European, we’re used to having to stay up till the morning for Starship action.”

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SpaceX fans were hoping the rocket could take to the skies on the weekend, however, the launch appears to be delayed by engine repairs.

SpaceX chief Elon Musk, 49, confirmed on Friday via Twitter two of the SN9’s engines need “slight repairs” and will be switched out.

The latest iteration of Starship is due to launch on a 6.2 mile (10km) hop.

SpaceX’s last attempt at a suborbital flight with the SN8 prototype was a partial success as the rocket was blown to smithereens when it failed to stick the landing.

Odds are, however, SpaceX has collected enough data from the mission to ace the SN9’s first flight.

And according to the latest flight restrictions issued by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), this could happen as early as Monday, January 18.

The FAA has issued three new note to airmen or NOTAMs covering the airspace around SpaceX’s facilities in Boca Chica, South Texas.

The NOTAMS specify “space operations” in the area and have been issued “to provide a safe environment for rocket launch and recovery”.

And although the Starship will only fly to an altitude of about 32,000ft, the NOTAMs cover an unlimited range.

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The flight restrictions are in effect on all three days between 2pm and 11.59pm GMT.

The update comes after the FAA withdrew NOTAMs previously issued for Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Spaceflight reporter Eric Ralph tweeted on Friday morning (UK time): “Starship SN9’s high-altitude launch debut is now NET Monday, January 18th, though it remains to be seen if SpaceX will proceed without first completing a longer0duration static fire.

“Weather on all three days is looking mediocre at best, so further delays likely.”

SpaceX’s Starship is being developed as a multi planetary launch vehicle capable of servicing missions to low Earth orbit (LEO), the Moon and Mars.

Mr Musk has envisioned a fleet of Starship will help build a colony on Mars, with plans to put the first boots on the Red Planet before the decade is out.

Once completed, Starship and its Super Heavy booster rocket will stand more than 390ft (120m) tall.

SpaceX said: “Starship will be the world’s most powerful launch vehicle ever developed, with the ability to carry in excess of 100 metric tonnes to Earth orbit.”

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