Elon Musk discusses future of SpaceX's Starship system
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SpaceX fans are eagerly awaiting the launch of the latest Starship prototype, the SN10. The company has already launched two Starship prototypes, the SN8 and the SN9, but both launches ended in failure. When the SN9 launched on February 2 following weeks of delays, the controlled landing did not go to plan.
The rocket successfully cruised at an altitude of 10 kilometres, but the descent of the rocket did not pan out as Mr Musk and co had anticipated.
As SN9 approached the landing pad, one of SN9’s engines failed to ignite and the rocket struggled to control its speed.
Once it hit the ground, the spacecraft exploded into a huge ball of flames.
The SN9’s predecessor, the SN8, suffered a similar fate on its attempted land in December.
However, SpaceX has vowed to keep going until thee flight and landing are a complete success, with the SN10’s launch up next.
When it will be launched has been something of a mystery, but Mr Musk has said there is a “good chance” it will happen this week.
Today, February 22, could see SpaceX carry out a “static test” of the SN10’s raptor engines.
This will see all three rockets fired up, but the craft will not leave its position on the ground in the Boca Chica, Texas, testing range.
Following that, it could be a matter of days before the SN10 launches.
One person said on Twitter they had noticed “aft flaps” attached to the now stationary SN10.
These flaps can move up and down, and help with flying and landing – something which has obviously been a problem for the Starship prototypes.
Mr Musk responded directly to the tweet saying: “Good chance of flying this week!”
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Roads have been closed around the Boca Chica site on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday this week, between the hours of 9am and 3pm local time (3pm and midnight GMT) for safety procedures in case the rocket launches in the coming days.
Cameron County Judge Eddie Trevino Jr said on Twitter: “Should SpaceX not complete its planned non-flight testing on February 22, 2021, then SpaceX may use the alternate dates to complete its testing activities.”
However, it took SN9 upwards of three weeks to launch, so SpaceX fans should not hold their breath just yet.
The SN10 will follow a similar path to its predecessors with a 10km altitude cruise but this time it will hope to land by firing all three of its Raptor rockets as it approaches the ground.
This will reduce the speed of the rocket on its descent, and give it more control as it heads for the landing pad.
How many Starship prototypes there will be is unknown, but Mr Musk and co need to get everything perfect if they are to ever get humans to Mars.
Mr Musk has previously said he is “highly confident” his SpaceX can get humans to Mars by 2026.
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