On Wednesday, in South Texas, SpaceX launched its latest prototype not once or twice. Instead, engineers and technicians refueled and tested the SN9 prototype and Raptor rocket engines three times in less than four hours.
After the first three tests, the founder and chief engineer of SpaceX said On Twitter, “Today at SpaceX it’s all about the practice of starting the Starship engine. The vessel is held in place by massive pins while the engines are running. ” After the third test, Accentuated musk All three tests went smoothly.
Completing three tests like this in rapid succession is a remarkable achievement and indicates the maturity of spacecraft hardware, ground systems and procedures for SpaceX’s launch program. The goal, Musk said, is to reach a point where one can “jump and go” on Mars. This ability remains for years in the future, if ever reached. But the company appears to be moving towards a solid launch system.
Assuming Wednesday’s engine test data is favorable, the next step for SN9 is likely to start and fly. The car is already in the launch pad, and Musk and his engineers will now undertake a ‘ready’ review before what is expected to be another test flight of about 12.5 km, similar to the one he did. . SN8 vehicle in December. The goal would be to successfully land, after the SN8 encountered a flaming end in the landing position after a near perfect flight.
SpaceX He got approval From the Federal Aviation Administration to launch its SN9 Thursday, Friday or Saturday from its facility near Boca Chica Beach in South Texas. They can probably change SN9 to try and fly on Thursday. However, there are concerns about the upper winds, which appear hostile until at least Saturday.
Sources have suggested that SpaceX wants to continue the SN9 flight, as it is close to completing assembly of the next Starship prototype, the SN10, at its facilities near the Gulf. The company is moving forward with driving this vehicle perhaps as early as the end of January, as it has several other prototypes in various build cases.
The short-term goal is to demonstrate the Starship’s orbital flight capability. To do this, the company must first build and test the Super Heavy missile, which will serve as the Starship’s first stage. This spectacular test will see a spacecraft launch into orbit, then determine if it can return safely to Earth using a mix of heat shield tiles on its atmospheric side and a complex set of maneuvers to reduce speed and possibly control. landing.
In an interview Posted earlier this month, SpaceX President and Chief Operating Officer Gwen Shotwell told Ars she believes this orbital flight test will take place in 2021.