The latest in SpaceX Starship The prototype is stacked in preparation for an ambitious test aircraft that will carry the vehicle far beyond its predecessors.
SpaceX Employees were attached to the nostrils of the Starship SN8 (“Serial No. 8”) yesterday (Oct. 22) at the company’s South Texas base near the Gulf Coast village of Boca Chica. The vehicle is now in its aircraft configuration, ready to go to an unplanned altitude of about 9 miles (15 kilometers).
SN8 has already taken a big step towards that hop, burning its three raptor engines The “constant fire” test earlier this week. Elon Musk, Founder and CEO of SpaceX, will make a second permanent fire before lifting the vehicle. Said via Twitter last month.
Starship is the largest, next-gen vehicle that SpaceX builds to get people and payloads to distant places like the Moon and Mars, orbiting all of the company’s other space travel needs and satellites.
The 165-foot (50 m) starship vehicle will be launched from Earth on a giant rocket called the Super Heavy, which has not yet even flown in prototype form. Musk said both components of the space travel system would be fully reusable; The super heavy will return to Earth for vertical landings, and the Starship will make several trips to the Moon, Mars or anywhere else. (Starship will be powerful enough to attack itself from the Moon and Mars, but it will need the help of a super heavy to get out of Earth.)
SpaceX is moving towards a final starship design via a series of prototypes, three of which have already produced brief test hops. For example, starships SN5 and SN6 flew at an altitude of 500 feet (150 m) in August and September this year, respectively.
One of those two prototypes had a raptor engine and no nose cone. SN8 is another beast because it goes too high; In addition to the nose cone and three raptors, the SN8 sports body flap to increase stability in flight. (Musk said the full-scale starship will be powered by six raptors and will have about 30 engines in the superheavy.)
SpaceX aims to get the mature Starship model up and running relatively quickly. The starship is in the process of landing astronauts on the moon for NASA Artemis Project, And the company wants the first of the group’s touchdowns to take place in 2024.
Mike Wall is the author of a book on the search for alien life, “Out There” (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; explained by Carl Tate). Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on Twitter pSpacedotcom or Facebook