Elon Musk’s last three early-model next-generation rockets have all metafter their maiden high-altitude test flights. Now the latest prototype, SN11, is on the launch pad at the SpaceX Starship development facility in Boca Chica, Texas, and could fly as soon as Friday afternoon.
is the big rocket Musk has promised will eventually deliver humans to the moon, Mars and perhaps beyond by the end of this decade.
The SN series of prototypes are stripped-down, three-engine versions of the spacecraft. SN8, SN9 and SN10 all made successful high-altitude flights followed by progressively softer but still too-hard landings. SN8 and SN9 both exploded upon impact; SN10 exploded on the landing pad several minutes after a rough touchdown.
The hope is SN11 can be the first of its kind to survive a flight and landing.
The prototype underwent a pair of test firings this week and SpaceX is currently gearing up for a flight attempt that could come at just about any time Friday afternoon.
There’s no set time for the flight attempt. Basically, the team at Boca Chica has a checklist to work through before launch and when all items have been checked, SN11 will be fueled up for flight.
Once fueling begins, launch is typically about 30-45 minutes away. A SpaceX livestream of the test flight should begin about five minutes before blast off and we’ll embed that feed here. Keep an eye on my Twitter feed @ericcmack for more incremental updates.
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