Starship SN8 prototype preparing for high altitude test

Joanna Estrada
November 26, 2020

In a tweet, the executive said that the most recent model, named SN8, had gone through a fruitful static fire, and that a flight test to a height of around 15 km could occur when one week from now.

A common pre-flight checkout for SpaceX rockets is a static fire in which the engine burns for a short time while the vehicle is bolted to the ground.

SpaceX looks prepared to continue to the following vital phase of its Starship spacecraft improvement program: A 15km (50,000 feet) test flight.

As of November 25th, SpaceX still has a static fire backup window open open from 8 am to 5 pm CST, while Starship SN8's launch road closures remain in effect from 7 am to 6 pm on November 30th with backups from 8 am to 5 pm on December 1st and 2nd.

Billionaire Elon Musk's space company is ready to hit a new milestone, planning the first major test of its new Starship rocket next week.

Starship is SpaceX's next-generation space transportation system, which the company is developing to take people and payloads to Mars and the moon, launch satellites to orbit and do everything else that SpaceX needs done. Starship will launch atop the massive first-stage Super Heavy rocket, which will have 31 Raptor engines. Goals are to test 3 engine ascent, body flaps, transition from main to header tanks & landing flip. Once in space, Starship will use its six Raptor engines for travel between different destinations. However, SpaceX has already built and tested many starship test vehicles, three of which are already in flight.A chunky craft called a star hopper Flew in the summer of 2019, And SN5 and SN6 got off On the ground in August and September of this year, Respectively. It started with the "Starhopper" prototype with a single Raptor engine. The Starship, however, will be incorporating both nose cones and body flaps in its test.

Starhopper, SN5 and SN6 aced their brief test flights. The third test didn't go as planned; the Raptors' ignition shattered the top layer of the test pad, sending shards of material into the engine bay and causing a premature shutdown, Musk explained in a tweet last week. The mask isn't likely to do the same for the SN8, but he said it wouldn't be a disaster if the vehicle crashed and burned. "But that's why we have SN 9 & SN10", he added in another tweet.

SN8's previous three static fires occurred on October 20, November 10 and November 12. Perhaps briefly producing upwards of 600 metric tons (6000 kN/~1.3M lbf) of thrust, Starship SN8's second triple-engine static fire was actually the first with that particular trio of engines.

But SN8 bounced back quickly, and it will soon fly high, if all goes according to plan.

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