SpaceX’s Starship test flight may be as early as Wednesday


BOCA CHICA, TX – SEPTEMBER 28: Space enthusiasts look at a prototype of SpaceX’s Starship spacecraft at the company’s Texas launch facility on September 28, 2019 in Boca Chica near Brownsville, Texas.

Loren Elliott | Getty Images News | Getty Images

SpaceX may attempt the next test flight of its Starship prototype rocket as early as Wednesday, CEO Elon Musk shared on Twitter.

The flight will be the company’s most ambitious test of Starship yet, as SpaceX is aiming to reach about 50,000 feet altitude with Starship prototype Serial Number 8, or SN8. That’s notably above the 500-foot flights of the prototype’s predecessors SN5 and SN6, which completed flight tests on Aug. 5 and Sept. 3, respectively.

The launch attempt will follow a “static fire” that is scheduled for Monday – a test when SpaceX will fire the rocket’s engines briefly.

Starship SN8 is built of stainless steel, with the prototypes representing the first versions of the rocket that Musk unveiled last year. The company is developing Starship with the goal of launching cargo and as many as a 100 people at a time on missions to the Moon and Mars.

SpaceX is aiming to pass several further development milestones with Starship SN8′s flight. Musk outlined last week that SpaceX’s goals for SN8’s flight are “to test 3 engine ascent, body flaps, transition from main to header tanks & landing flip.” But asked what he thought about chances of the Starship prototype landing intact after the flight, Musk gave SN8 low odds of complete success on the first try.

“Lot of things need to go right, so maybe 1/3 chance,” Musk said.

While SpaceX’s fleet of Falcon 9  and Falcon Heavy rockets are partially reusable, Musk’s goal is to make Starship fully reusable — envisioning a rocket that is more akin to a commercial airplane, with short turnaround times between flights where the only major cost is fuel.

The company is building the Starship prototypes at its growing facility in Boca Chica, Texas. SpaceX plans to continue expanding its launch complex there, according to a proposal published by published by the Federal Aviation Administration in May.

SpaceX’s plan as of May 2020 to further build up a launch facility in Boca Chica, Texas.

Federal Aviation Administration

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