SpaceX Starship explodes on landing during a test
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SpaceX fans around the world have been eagerly waiting for the launch of the Starship SN15, paying close attention to the company’s social media for updates. SpaceX chief Elon Musk finally teased on Tuesday the flight would go ahead “later this week” although he did not specify an exact launch. There are, however, some clues to suggest the rocket will take to the skies before the week is over.
To date, SpaceX has only launched four Starship prototypes, none of which have survived their maiden voyage.
The rocket’s all flew to an altitude of at least 32,000ft (10km), after which they attempted to touch back down on the ground in one piece.
Much to SpaceX’s fan’s dismay, the rockets all came crashing down – with the exception of the SN10 – and were blown to smithereens.
SN10 came close to sticking the landing but hit the ground too hard and was damaged in the process.
As the rocket stood lopsided on the launch pad at Boca Chica in South Texas, a methane leak ignited and blew the spacecraft up – eight minutes after touchdown.
But there is a lot of excitement around the SN15’s flight as Mr Musk has promised this iteration of the Mars rocket marks a great improvement on its four predecessors.
One SpaceX fan tweeted: “Beauty is something that gives you peace and a feeling of satisfaction!
“For instance watchin’ SN15 land in a single piece would be a hell of a beauty!”
And another person said: “Please, I beg you Elon, do *not* let SN15 launch and land in fog again.”
What time will the Starship Sn15 launch this week?
Although SpaceX has not confirmed a launch date yet, flight restrictions and road closures in Texas can give us a few clues.
Cameron County officials have scheduled a number of road closures before the weekend, citing imminent “space flight activities” in Boca Chica.
Closures have been ordered for Thursday and Friday, with the latter being designated a backup launch window.
Cameron County Judge Eddie Trevino Jr said: “Should SpaceX not complete its planned space flight activities on April 29, 2021, then SpaceX may use the alternate date to complete its test launch activities.”
The potential launch window will open today at 6pm and close at 2am BST (12pm to 8pm CDT).
And tomorrow’s backup will be open from 2pm to 11pm BST (8am to 5pm CDT).
Road closures typically coincide with SpaceX issuing an evacuation notice to the few residents of Boca Chica Village.
One of them is Mary, a video producer with NASASpaceflight.
Road closures and evacuations ensure unlucky members of the public do not get caught in the blast zone, should something go wrong – as it has four times already.
However, there has been no news of evacuation orders on Thursday.
Another clue comes from the US Federal Aviation Administration or FAA.
The FAA regulates the airspace over America and orders temporary flight restrictions (TFRs) ahead of SpaceX launches.
The FAA has issued a TFR for Friday – not Thursday – suggesting Starship’s test flight will take place tomorrow.
The TFR is in place between 1pm BST on Friday and 2am on Saturday.
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