Update: SpaceX withdrew from its test flight on Tuesday after the Starship prototype’s Raptor engines canceled just 1 launch. 3 seconds before take off.
SpaceX is about to attempt its most ambitious test launch yet of Starship-Super Heavy, a fully reusable missile system that could one day cut the cost of reaching space by 1000 times.
The aerospace company founded by Elon Musk plans to launch a three-engine, 16-story prototype of the Starship starship on Tuesday from its expanding facilities in Boca Chica, Texas. You can watch multiple live video feeds below. (SpaceX is not yet ready to test a 23-story booster that would ultimately help put a spaceship into orbit. )
Musk announced on Jan.. November tweeted, the prototype should fly – called the Starship serial number. 8 or SN8 – up to 50. 000 feet or 9. 15 kilometers. SpaceX later lowered that cap to 41, however. 000 feet or 7. 8 miles (12). 5 kilometers), according to Reuters.
One such attempt at high altitude is the most ambitious for Starship to date. Musk said last week that « a lot of things have to go right » for SN8 to land intact, adding that he believes there is « maybe a 1/3 chance » that it will.
The Federal Aviation Administration gave SpaceX between 8 a. m. and 6 p. m. CT (9 a. m. and 7 p. m. ET) after a notice of the closure of the airspace.
« The schedule is dynamic and is likely to change, as it does with all development tests, » SpaceX said before attempting the launch.
The exact time of the planned launch is not publicly known. However, NASA’s high altitude WB-57 jet took off at 15. 11 a.m. in Houston. m. CT and should reach Boca Chica around 4pm. m. CT FlightAware. com. This aircraft should be able to video take off around 4:15 p.m.. m. CT. (NASA did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment. )
SpaceX plans to host a live broadcast of the attempt on YouTube a few minutes before launch. However, fans of the company will be there, streaming their own live video in the area. We recommend starting with the NASASpaceflight video stream embedded below as the broadcasters have the broadcasters’ knowledge and have multiple high quality camera views.
For more information about the launch location, which is broadcast from the top of a hotel resort on South Padre Island about 6 miles away, please see SPadre’s 24-hour live feed.
Once SpaceX launches its own broadcast, usually with live views from flying drones, you can check out the company’s feed below.
Based on previous Starship prototype flights, a number of events usually precede take-off. A few hours earlier, SpaceX will clear the launch site of personnel. About an hour before the flight, storage tanks at the launch site will begin venting gases while SpaceX prepares to refuel Starship with cryogenic fuels. This vent appeared to begin around 3:30 p.m.. m. CT.
If you refuel later, Starship will vent gases from the top and takeoff can be done in minutes.
SpaceX could try again Wednesday or Thursday around the same time if hiccups prevent launch. Bad weather, a technical breakdown, or a boat entering the launch hazard zone – a new challenge for Starship – can result in delays.
SpaceX is taking a quick, but step-by-step, approach to proving that Starship’s core systems are performing as planned, making tweaks where the system needs to work, and bringing it back to the launch pad for further testing.
SpaceX flew a « Starhopper » prototype at around 150 meters in 2019, and this August brought a larger SN5 prototype to a similar height. These tests helped SpaceX test the giant Raptor rocket engines and the system’s landing ability.
This week’s test flight is a big step in determining whether the SN8 can withstand the rigors of higher altitudes, speeds and maneuvers.
If everything goes well, the SN8 lifts the pad and disappears from view. When it reaches the climax of its flight, the engines of a reaction control system tip the vehicle forward into a « belly flop » position. That way, SpaceX can see how Starship’s canards and wing flaps behave as the vehicle drives back to Earth.
« SN8 will also attempt a landing-flip maneuver, which would be a first for a vehicle of this size, » SpaceX said in describing its YouTube broadcast, adding that « Success is not due to certain goals What is measured is how much we can learn as a whole, what informs and improves the probability of success in the future. ”
SpaceX ultimately hopes to put suborbital launch attempts behind and put spacecraft into orbit around Boca Chica. The company is now facing a new environmental analysis at the FAA. Depending on how this process goes, SpaceX can experience a lag in orbit from a few months to a few years.
This story has been updated with new information. It was originally released at 11:16 am. m. ET.
SpaceX, Elon Musk, space launch, flight test, SpaceX launch site South Texas
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