SpaceX: Expert discusses Starship test flights

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As if the first suborbital flight of the Starship SN15 wasn’t exciting enough, SpaceX fans will be treated to a second launch of the Mars rocket. The SpaceX prototype aced its first launch and landing attempt on May 5 when it soared to an altitude of 32,000ft (10km) and touched back down in one piece. SN15’s predecessors – SN8, SN9, SN10 and SN11 – weren’t so lucky and were all blown to smithereens at the company’s Boca Chica facility in South Texas.

SpaceX has now teased the SN15 could fly for a second time in a matter of “days” and fans worldwide can’t contain their excitement.

Michael Baylor, a live stream producer for NASASpaceflight, tweeted: “SpaceX teams are set to lift Starship SN15 onto Pad B for detailed inspections ahead of a possible reflight.”

Another Twitter user said: “They’re gonna refly it, the absolute mad lads!!! Maybe the end of next week? #SN15”

And a third person said: “@Starship_SN15 Welcome back to the launch site. I’m glad to see you again in one piece!”

When will Starship SN15 launch again?

Although SpaceX is yet to officially confirm the SN15 will launch for a second time, the company has already teased this possibility.

Michael Andrews, a supply chain supervisor at SpaceX, teased on Sunday the company will perform more test flights “in the days ahead” suggesting SN15 won’t be scrapped just yet.

Mr Andrews shed light on the rocket’s future during a live broadcast to mark SpaceX’s most recent launch of Starlink satellites into orbit.

He said: “Now these test flights and pathfinders are all about developing a transportation system that can help humanity return to the Moon, travel to Mars, and even go beyond.

SpaceX Starship explodes on landing during a test

“Please stay tuned for additional test flights in the days ahead and be sure to check our social media accounts for more Starship updates.”

SN15’s second launch was also hinted at by SpaceX chief Elon Musk who tweeted: “Might try to refly SN15 soon.”

The 164ft-tall, stainless steel spacecraft has already been rolled back out onto the launch pad where it will be mounted on a launch platform.

However, before Starship can fly, SpaceX will want to closely inspect and repair the rocket, if needed.

It is likely Starship’s landing gear will be swapped out or upgraded.

SpaceX might also want to perform a new static fire test of the rocket’s three Raptor engines.

During a static fire test, the rocket ignites engines at full throttle but remains firmly tethered to the ground.

SpaceX will then need to clear the launch with local authorities and the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Before the flight, Cameroun County officials will order road closures around Boca Chica to protect public health and safety.

The FAA will also issue temporary flight restrictions (TFRs) to prevent any air traffic during the test.

SN15 is an upgraded version of the Starship prototype, which likely contributed to its success last week.

According to Mr Musk, the Starship SN20 will next mark a generational leap.

The South African billionaire wants to put one of these test rockets into orbit before the year is over.

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