Elon Musk discusses future of SpaceX's Starship system
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SpaceX fans worldwide have been kept on the edge of their seat all month, waiting for the Starship SN15 to launch. After the failed flights of the SN8, SN9, SN10 and SN11 before it, pressure is mounting on Elon Musk and co to perform. The spacecraft that could one day land humans on Mars is being built and tested at SpaceX’s Boca Chica facility in South Texas.
The site has so far seen four attempts to launch and land the prototype spacecraft, all of which ended in disaster.
The Starship iterations were launched to altitudes of at least 32,000ft (10km), after which they were brought down to try a soft landing.
One by one, the rockets crashed into the launch pad, erupting into flames and smoke.
SN10 came closest to surviving its flight but hit the ground too hard and was damaged in the process.
Eventually, about eight minutes after touchdown, a methane leak within the spacecraft ignited and the SN10 was no more.
But hopes are high for the SN15, which SpaceX chief Elon Musk said is an improvement on its predecessors.
The upgrades are the reason why SpaceX has jumped from the SN11 straight to the SN15 while scrubbing the SN12, SN13 and SN14.
But will the upgrades be enough for SN15 to survive its upcoming test flight?
One SpaceX fan said on Twitter: “SN15 is the upgrade. Let’s hope this works.”
SpaceX: Camera feed freezes upon Starship SN11 landing
Will Starship SN15 launch this week?
SpaceX’s launch schedule at Boca Chica is kept firmly under wraps without any clear indication of a launch date until the very last moment.
Diehard fans, instead, keep their eyes peeled for official road closures and flight restrictions around the facility.
One such closure was scheduled by Cameron County Judge Eddie Trevino Jr for Friday, April 23, but has since been called off.
The closure was likely intended for a static fire test of the rocket’s three Raptor engines and not a launch itself.
A static fire, which occurs with the rocket firmly tethered to the ground, is the final wet rehearsal before a full-blown flight.
SpaceX fans might, therefore, expect the test to go ahead on the weekend but that is unlikely to happen.
Each test and launch requires local authorities to close off roads and access to the popular Boca Chica Beach.
While this is not a big issue during the week, the beach is a popular spot on the weekends making closures more troublesome.
To date, all of Starship’s test flights have taken place on weekdays.
As of Friday evening (UK time) there are no closures in place to suggest testing on the weekend.
The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has, however, issued temporary flight restrictions (TFRs) over Boca Chica on Monday, 26.
The restrictions are in place between 1pm and 2am BST, and cover “space operations” up to an unlimited altitude.
But even the TFR is not a guarantee the rocket will fly next week, so fans will have to stay tuned for more updates.
Follow Express.co.uk for the latest Starship and SpaceX news.
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