SpaceX enthusiasts are desperate for good news after the failure of the first Starship prototypes. Elon Musk's company is preparing for the Starship SN15's first flight, with two test dates set for the beginning of the week!
After its predecessors' failures, Starship SN15 is the next concept spacecraft to fly from the company's Boca Chica facility in South Texas. SpaceX has launched the SN8, SN9, SN10, and SN11 spacecraft so far.
None of them have made it through their test flights. On March 3 of this year, the Starship SN10 came the closest to succeeding when it seemed to have landed in one piece, only to explode eight minutes later.
SpaceX SN15: What Is This New Starship?
SN15 is a major improvement over its predecessors, according to SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, 49, and expectations are strong.
The improvements were significant enough for the company to abandon the Starship SN12, SN13, and SN14 in favor of the SN15.
Mr. Musk teased "major improvements" for this concept rocket in November of last year, revealing it would have "more mature" engines and more durable wiring.
Then, shortly after the SN11's crash, he announced that the SN20 will be the next major step forward.
Musk tweeted: "Next major technology rev is at SN20. Those ships will be orbit-capable with heat shield and stage separation system. Ascent success probability is high.
"However, SN20+ vehicles will probably need many flight attempts to survive Mach 25 entry heating and land intact."
Next major technology rev is at SN20. Those ships will be orbit-capable with heat shield & stage separation system. Ascent success probability is high.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 30, 2021
However, SN20+ vehicles will probably need many flight attempts to survive Mach 25 entry heating & land intact.
SpaceX is expected to announce the next launch date at Boca Chica soon.
Will it Launch This Weekend?
The rocket is unlikely to fly this weekend for various reasons. However, the SN15's launch date is approaching.
SpaceX could be planning to launch the SN15 on April 20, Express.co.uk said.
According to documents obtained by the media outlet, SpaceX wants to try a Starlink terminal aboard the spacecraft.
Starlink, of course, is the company's space-based broadband service, which is delivered to Earth by a growing constellation of low-Earth orbit satellites (LEO).
SpaceX has sought approval to run a single terminal "on an experimental basis at altitudes not to exceed 12.5km" within 5 kilometers of Boca Chica.
Test flights of the Starship have so far reached altitudes of 12.5 and 10 kilometers.
"The authority requested herein will be sharply limited in duration: SpaceX requests to operate under this STA for a period of only 60 days, beginning on April 20, 2020, or the date on which the STA requested herein is granted, whichever is later," the request reads.
"These operations will only occur on the ground or during test flights of durations not to exceed eight minutes," the request added.
"This user terminal will be electrically identical to Earth stations already authorized under SpaceX's blanket Earth station authorizations as well as its pending application for experimental authorization to operate a limited number of user terminals aboard aircraft."
The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and local authorities in Texas have yet to approve SpaceX's launches.
Since the company's facility is close to State Highway 4, Cameron County Judge Eddie Trevino Jr plans road closures ahead of the launch and testing to protect public health and safety.
The highway and Boca Chica Beach are highly congested on weekends, making weekend launches extremely impossible.
Check out more news and information on SpaceX on Science Times.