The next Starship test, scheduled to launch from SpaceX's Starbase facility in Texas on Friday, has been canceled. Still, Elon Musk's company seems to be targeting Tuesday or Wednesday.
The high-altitude flight test of the Starship SN15 comes after four previous attempts, both of which resulted in major explosions.
Mr. Musk said that previous problems with the rocket's Raptor engines had been resolved "six ways to Sunday." Still, there are more Starship experiments in the works if it fails to land safely.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) had granted airspace clearance. In addition, Cameron County had imposed road closures and released maritime danger notices. But according to Cameron County's website, local roads in Boca Chica were reopened just before 1 p.m. local time.
Why SpaceX Moved SN15 Test Flight
The cancellation of the Starship mission is yet to be explained by SpaceX.
The next Starship test, which was scheduled to launch from SpaceX's Starbase facility in Texas on Friday, has been canceled, but Elon Musk's company now seems to be shooting for Tuesday or Wednesday.
The high-altitude flight test of the Starship SN15 comes after four previous attempts that all resulted in huge explosions.
According to Musk, SpaceX has flown prototypes SN8 and SN11 at high altitudes and has long intended to incorporate "significant enhancements" into SN15. The company is now working on a flight of SN15, skipping SN12, SN13, and SN14, which were never fully assembled.
SN15 rolls to launch pad in a few days. It has hundreds of design improvements across structures, avionics/software & engine.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 30, 2021
Hopefully, one of those improvements covers this problem. If not, then retrofit will add a few more days.
SN15, according to Musk, "had hundreds of structural changes through systems, avionics/software, and engine." Hopefully, they have included updates to address some of the issues that have stopped SpaceX from landing without an unscheduled disassembly thus far. The SN15 has gone through some preliminary tests, and Musk originally said that the goal was to launch last month, but that deadline has slipped. Science Times also previously reported that the FAA granted a launch license covering SN15, SN16, and SN17 last Thursday. Still, it looks like we'll have to wait until at least Tuesday to see it go. Once all of the relevant closures and approvals are in place, SN15 could launch within the authorized windows any time soon (or not at all).
How the Starship SN15 launch should look like
Both four high-altitude Starship craft flight tests have ended in explosions, with only Starship SN10 making it to the ground (before exploding on the landing pad eight minutes later). The exercises would last about six minutes from takeoff to landing, The Independent said.
Elon Musk has confirmed SN15 scheduled to fly some time this week. Here is your step-by-step infographic on what to expect. Not 100% on flip & burn config. Thanks to improvements to the rocket, we may see @SpaceX go back to their original single burn landing. Look for updates. pic.twitter.com/cSMcmCxr1N— Tony Bela - Infographic news (@InfographicTony) April 27, 2021
According to SpaceX, the Starship will be "powered during ascent by three Raptor engines, each shutting down in sequence before the spacecraft hitting apogee - about 10 kilometers in altitude. Starship SN15 "is capable" of doing a propellant transition internal header tanks, which hold landing propellant, before reorienting itself for reentry and controlled aerodynamic descent.
In fact, this looks like a belly-flop, and it should be accompanied by a complicated landing flip maneuver powered by one or two Raptor engines that can safely land the craft.
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