SpaceX is preparing to test-fly a new Starship after the last four exploded. It could return NASA astronauts to the moon.

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Left: The SN10 Starship prototypes soars above Boca Chica, Texas on March 3, 2021. Right: SpaceX CEO Elon Musk.

SpaceX is getting ready to launch its fifth high-flying Starship from its Texas rocket facilities this week.

Unlike its predecessors, this particular mega-spaceship is a relative of NASA’s next moon lander – the vehicle that will put boots on the lunar surface for the first time since 1972.

Starship serial No. 11, or SN15, is the latest of a series of Starship prototypes that SpaceX is launching up to six miles above Boca Chica, Texas.

As SN15 approaches the peak of its flight, it should shut off its three truck-sized Raptor engines one by one. Then SN15 should tip sideways and plunge back to Earth, using four wing flaps to control its fall.

As it nears the ground, SN15 should reignite its engines to flip itself upright again and gently lower to the landing pad. This is where its predecessors have failed, though.

The first two prototypes that soared to high altitude, SN8 and SN9, slammed into the landing pad at high speed and exploded immediately. The third, SN10, landed in one piece but blew up 10 minutes later. The fourth, SN11, exploded in mid-air as it re-lit its engines for landing.

starship prototype explosions collage spacex boca chica spadre
From left to right: The SN8, SN9, and SN10 explosions.

For SpaceX, explosions during rocket development are par for the course.

“They use a different development philosophy than the government does, which is: Fly. If something goes wrong, they try to fix it. Fly again. If something else goes wrong, they try to fix that,” John Logsdon, founder of George Washington University’s Space Policy Institute and a former member of the NASA Advisory Council, told Insider after the fourth Starship explosion. “People have complimented SpaceX on how quickly they move.”

But, he added, “the fact that they’ve had these early development-program problems means that there will have to be a record of success before anybody except an extreme risk taker is willing to get aboard.”

Nailing the landing is even more critical now that NASA has chosen Starship to land its next astronauts on the moon.

The agency announced on Friday that it’s working with SpaceX to turn Starship into the lunar lander that will jumpstart its Artemis program, which aims to establish a permanent human presence on the moon. NASA hopes to land its first crewed Starship there in 2024, but a new report from the NASA Office of the Inspector General found that it’s “highly unlikely” the agency will meet this deadline.

starship moon human landing system
Illustration of SpaceX Starship human lander design that will carry NASA astronauts to the moon’s surface during the Artemis mission.

On SpaceX’s end, a major step toward the moon will be flying and landing Starships here on Earth – without blowing them up.

SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk has ambitions beyond the lunar surface, though. Ultimately, he has said, he plans to build 1,000 Starships that carry people and cargo to Mars and establish a settlement there.

Musk said Thursday on Twitter that the company was aiming to launch SN15 sometime this week. Government clearances indicate that Tuesday and Wednesday might offer flight opportunities.

The Federal Aviation Administration has issued airspace-closure notices for the area from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. CT on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. The Cameron County judge has also issued local road closures – another requirement for launch – from noon to 8 p.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday.

How to watch Starship’s flight live

As of Monday afternoon, SN15 was upright on the Boca Chica launchpad. During the test flight, SpaceX will likely livestream from that site and from cameras inside the rocket’s skirt, where the engines are located.

The up-close cameras have provided stunning footage of past Starship flights, like the below footage of SN9. (We’ll embed SpaceX’s live feed below once it’s available.)

In the meantime, a few rocket enthusiasts and fans of the company are broadcasting live from Boca Chica.

NASASpaceflight broadcasters will likely cover a critical “static fire” engine test that SpaceX must conduct ahead of launch, anchoring SN15 to the launchpad and igniting its engines. It’s unclear when that will happen, but the earliest opportunity is Tuesday.

LabPadre, a YouTube channel from Louis Balderas, a Texas resident who lives just across the bay from Boca Chica, offers six unique views of the Starship launch site. Below is the channel’s main 4K-resolution feed.

For a more distant view of the launch site – broadcast from the top of a hotel resort in South Padre Island about 6 miles away – check out SPadre’s 24-hour live feed.

Read the original article on Business Insider

NASA has chosen SpaceX’s Starship to land its next astronauts on the moon

elon musk starship happy success thumb 4x3
Left: The SN10 Starship prototypes soars above Boca Chica, Texas, March 3, 2021. Right: Elon Musk

NASA has picked SpaceX to put its astronauts on the moon for the first time since 1972.

The agency announced the partnership on Friday – a new $2.9 billion contract.

To accomplish this goal, NASA will work with SpaceX to turn its Starship mega-spaceship into the most advanced lunar lander in history – and the first fully reusable one. NASA officials say Starship could land two astronauts on the moon as soon as 2024 as part of the agency’s Artemis program.

starship moon human landing system
Illustration of SpaceX Starship human lander design that will carry NASA astronauts to the moon’s surface during the Artemis mission.

Through Artemis, NASA eventually aims to establish a permanent presence on the moon. The agency’s vision includes lunar habitats and a moon-orbiting space station. After that, it hopes to expand similar operations to Mars.

“We won’t stop at the moon. NASA’s long-term goal has always been to send humans to Mars, which is rich in discovery. And the moon is a natural stepping stone to getting us there,” acting NASA Administrator Steve Jurczyk said during a briefing on Friday.

That’s a goal NASA shares with SpaceX founder Elon Musk. In addition to carrying astronauts to the moon, Musk has said that he plans to build 1,000 Starships in order to fly people and cargo to Mars and establish a settlement there.

Musk responded to Friday’s announcement with an emoji-filled tweet saying simply: “NASA Rules!!”

SpaceX beat out two competitors for the contract: Blue Origin, founded by Amazon tycoon Jeff Bezos, and defense contractor Dynetics. NASA was expected to choose two of the three for the new landing-system contract, but it settled on just SpaceX.

SpaceX’s $2.9 billion bid was much lower than the prices its competitors offered, according to NASA’s selection statement. The document notes that SpaceX plans to “self-fund and assume financial risk for over half of the development and test activities,” since the company wants to use Starship for its own commercial activities as well.

The first moon landing in 50 years

starship sn8 serial number 8 belly flop flip landing explosion boca chica texas 2020 12 10T004327Z_771613110_RC20KK9749O4_RTRMADP_3_SPACE EXPLORATION STARSHIP.JPG
SpaceX’s SN8 Starship prototype attempts to land at the company’s development facility in Boca Chica, Texas, on December 9, 2020.

NASA’s contract calls for SpaceX to conduct a full, uncrewed test flight before Starship carries any astronauts. For this demonstration, Starship would launch toward the moon using its 23-story Super Heavy booster – which SpaceX is still developing. The uncrewed Starship would then have to prove that it can descend to the lunar surface using its Raptor engines to control the landing. It’s not yet clear whether the lander will then lift back off to reenter lunar orbit or return to Earth.

If that goes well, NASA plans to conduct a crewed demonstration mission in which another Starship would land two astronauts on the moon. One of them would be the first woman to reach the lunar surface. NASA has pledged to send an astronaut of color on a future Artemis mission.

For that crewed demonstration mission, NASA plans to launch its own mega-rocket – the Space Launch System – towards the moon, with an astronaut crew tucked into the Orion spaceship atop it.

sls space launch system nasa
An artist’s rendering of the Space Launch System rocket lifting off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Then once in lunar orbit, the Starship and Orion would rendezvous so that two of the astronauts could move to the SpaceX vehicle. That moon-lander version of Starship will feature “a spacious cabin and two airlocks for astronaut moonwalks,” NASA said in a statement on Friday.

After landing, the plan calls for the astronaut pair to spend a week exploring the lunar surface before Starship launches them back to Orion, where their colleagues would be waiting to return to Earth.

Starship hasn’t landed yet without exploding

starship prototype explosions collage spacex boca chica spadre
From left to right: The SN8, SN9, and SN10 explosions.

SpaceX has been launching Starship prototypes from its rocket-testing facilities in Boca Chica, Texas, since last year. Four prototypes have flown to high altitudes – at least 6 miles above the ground – but they’ve all exploded or fallen apart upon their return to Earth.

The prototypes have, however, successfully demonstrated that the vehicle can fly and control its belly-flop fall back to Earth using four wing flaps.

The company hopes to nail the landing and get Starship to orbit by the end of the year. It’s an ambitious timeline, especially since the company will likely have to conduct an environmental review in order to get an orbital-launch license from the Federal Aviation Administration.

“NASA is providing insight throughout this development and is ensuring that this system will be safe for our astronauts,” Lisa Watson-Morgan, manager of the agency’s Human Landing System program, said in Friday’s briefing.


“We are confident in NASA’s partnership with SpaceX to help us achieve the Artemis mission, and look forward to continuing our work toward landing astronauts on the moon to prepare for the next giant leap towards Mars,” she added.

Read the original article on Business Insider

NASA has picked SpaceX’s Starship to land its next astronauts on the moon

elon musk starship happy success thumb 4x3

NASA has picked SpaceX to land astronauts on the moon for the first time since 1972, the agency announced on Friday.

Clinching the lunar-landing contact means SpaceX’s Starship spaceship will fly astronauts to the moon for NASA’s Artemis program, which seeks to put boots on the lunar surface by 2024. NASA has said that mission will include the first woman and the first person of color to reach the moon.

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The SN10 Starship prototypes soars above Boca Chica, Texas, March 3, 2021.

The company beat out two competitors for the contract, Jeff Bezos-founded Blue Origin and defense contractor Dynetics. The Washington Post’s Christian Davenport, who reported the new contract ahead of NASA’s announcement, added on Twitter that the $2.9 billion SpaceX bid was much lower than the competitors’ bids.

Securing the lunar landing contract puts SpaceX CEO and founder Elon Musk ahead of Bezos in the billionaire space race. NASA was expected to choose two out of the three finalists to make the landing system, but settled on just SpaceX, according to The Post.

Ars Technica’s senior space editor, Eric Berger, wrote on Twitter that awarding the contract solely to SpaceX “is going to be hugely unpopular in Congress,” and said that “one big reason” for the sole contract was “limited Congressional funding.”

Starship is undergoing a spectacular testing process

starship prototype explosions collage spacex boca chica spadre
From left to right: The SN8, SN9, and SN10 explosions.

SpaceX has been launching prototypes of the Starship spaceship from its rocket-testing facilities in Boca Chica, Texas. Four prototypes have flown to high altitudes – at least 6 miles above the ground – and exploded or fallen apart upon their return to Earth. The prototypes have successfully demonstrated the vehicle’s ability to fly, then control its belly-flop fall back to Earth using four wing flaps.

The company hopes to nail the landing and get Starship to orbit by the end of the year. That timeline is ambitious, especially since the company will likely have to conduct an environmental review in order to get an orbital-launch license from the Federal Aviation Administration.

Eventually, a roughly 23-story booster called Super Heavy would heave the Starship spaceship toward orbit. Musk has plans for Starship-Super Heavy beyond the moon. Eventually, has said, he plans to build 1,000 Starships in order to carry people and cargo to Mars and establish a settlement there.

Read the original article on Business Insider

A YouTuber got into a SpaceX launch site and filmed himself with the prototype SN11 Starship, days before the rocket exploded in a test flight

spacex starship sn8 serial number 8 boca chica texas launch site elon musk twitter december 7 2020 EoqSQ1rUYAAW5tV 4x3
SpaceX, founded by Elon Musk, is building and launching Starship prototypes in Boca Chica, Texas.

  • A YouTuber entered a SpaceX facility and filmed closeup videos of the Starship rocket, SN11.
  • Caesar later posted an apology video, saying “it was illegal but … I didn’t really think about that.”
  • He recorded the Starship SN11 days before it exploded during a test flight.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A YouTuber filmed himself entering a SpaceX facility in south Texas last week, where he managed to get close to the company’s prototype Starship rocket without security stopping him.

The YouTuber, known as Caesar on his channel “Loco VlogS,” entered the Boca Chica grounds of Elon Musk’s company in late March, The Verge first reported Thursday. He has since deleted the video, which The Verge reported got five likes and 100 dislikes.

Another YouTube account reuploaded the recording on March 31. It shows Caesar walking around the 16-story-tall prototype Starship SN11, walking underneath it and getting close to the three truck-sized Raptor engines. Nobody else appears in the video. Caesar does not touch the rocket, which is on stilts.

Caesar filmed the Starship rocket days before it exploded on landing during a test – the fourth time a Starship prototype crashed during testing. Musk eventually wants to build 1,000 Starships to carry people and cargo to Mars, where they can establish a human settlement.

Caesar didn’t immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment, but he posted a video on April 1 apologizing. “Yes it was wrong, yes it was illegal but in my eyes, in that time of moment, I didn’t really think about that,” he said.

“What went through my mind was, ‘Okay, I’m never gonna get this opportunity again.’ So I went for it. And, well, this happened.”

Read more: MONEY FOR MARS: Inside SpaceX’s quest to make Starlink the world’s top off-planet internet business

SpaceX didn’t immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment, but a NASA spokesperson told the Verge that “SpaceX notified NASA that they investigated this incident.”

The agency “takes safety and security very seriously,” it added.

This isn’t the first time that fans have entered SpaceX premises. Insider reported in 2019 that a SpaceX fan was accused of criminal trespassing and arrested for getting too close to a rocket prototype called Starhopper.

Read the original article on Business Insider

SpaceX’s new Starship rocket prototype exploded at the end of a test flight yet again, sending debris flying

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A screen shot of SpaceX’s landing pad in Texas during the SN11 prototype flight on March 30, 2021. Arrows indicate flying debris.

SpaceX’s latest Starship rocket prototype once again failed to finish its test flight in one piece.

This version of the vehicle, called Starship serial No. 11, or SN11, sent debris raining down during an unsuccessful landing attempt on Tuesday morning. It’s not yet clear whether the rocket blew up in the air during its descent, or whether it exploded upon touching the landing pad.

Starship heaved itself off the launchpad at 8 a.m. local time, launching 6 miles into the skies above Texas. As it approached the peak of its flight, the 16-story rocket shut off two of its three truck-sized Raptor engines. It hovered at 33,000 feet, then cut the final engine, tipped sideways, and plunged back to Earth.

As it neared the ground, the rocket was supposed to reignite its engines to flip upright and land gently. Instead, its onboard cameras froze after the engine ignition sequence. Because of a thick fog in Boca Chica, Texas, it was impossible to see SN11 as it approached the landing pad.

SpaceX’s live feed of the launch cut out after 5 minutes and 49 seconds of footage.

A live feed from NASASpaceflight shows debris falling around the launchpad, presumably from the rocket.

While the rocket landed too hard, and possibly already in pieces, it did reach the correct spot: “At least the crater is in the right place!” Elon Musk, SpaceX’s founder, tweeted on Tuesday.

“Something significant happened shortly after landing burn start,” Musk tweeted. “Should know what it was once we can examine the bits later today.”

He added that it seemed like one of the engines had issues on the rocket’s ascent.

The launch was SpaceX’s fourth Starship prototype flight attempt since December. The Starship prototype that launched prior to this one, called SN10, stuck the landing at first after its flight earlier this month, but it exploded 10 minutes later. The two before that, SN8 and SN9, both crashed immediately and blew up.

starship prototype explosions collage spacex boca chica spadre
From left to right: The SN8, SN9, and SN10 explosions.

SpaceX will have to master landing the Starship – without any explosions, immediate or delayed – in order to achieve founder Elon Musk’s goal of building the world’s first fully reusable launch system.

SpaceX has started building the booster designed to carry Starship to orbit

The Starship prototypes SpaceX is launching are meant to be the upper stage of a two-part system. Eventually, a roughly 23-story booster called Super Heavy would heave the Starship spaceship toward orbit.

SpaceX began assembling its first prototype of that booster at its Texas facilities in mid-March. Musk said this version of Super Heavy is just for production testing, though the next prototype should fly.

To grasp the size of this launch system, look for the person standing on the lift in this photo Musk shared on Twitter. Then imagine Starship sitting on top of that booster.

Musk wants the Starship-Super Heavy system to one day fly astronauts to the moon and power hypersonic travel on Earth. Ultimately, he has said, he plans to build 1,000 Starships in order to carry people and cargo to Mars and establish a settlement there.

Making Starship-Super Heavy reusable could slash the cost of reaching space 1,000-fold. Its enormous size would allow it to carry large payloads to space, including tens of thousands of Starlink internet satellites that SpaceX plans to put into orbit.

In short, this is the launch system on which SpaceX is staking its future. But there are several hurdles to clear before it can reach space.

Environmental reviews could slow Starship’s journey to orbit

spacex starship super heavy spaceship booster rocket launch boca chica south texas illustration
An illustration of SpaceX’s planned 39-story Starship rocket system launching from Boca Chica, Texas.

In addition to landing Starship prototypes without blowing them up, SpaceX will need to integrate the Super Heavy booster with the spaceship, learn to launch the two parts together, and show it can land the booster in one piece.

The company will also need to rocket a Starship into orbit to test its ability to reenter Earth’s atmosphere. That will require a new type of launch license from the Federal Aviation Administration, but obtaining it requires clearing many regulatory hurdles, including a thorough environmental assessment. Depending on the findings of that assessment, it’s possible SpaceX may need to conduct a new environmental impact statement, which could take up to three years.

Complicating matters is a leaked FAA draft document obtained by Insider that revealed SpaceX’s plans to dig natural gas wells and build gas-fired power plants in Boca Chica. Such plans could prolong SpaceX’s environmental review process.

Musk, however, has said he is “highly confident” SpaceX will launch an uncrewed Starship to Mars in 2024, followed by a crewed mission in 2026.

Read the original article on Business Insider

SpaceX hopes to launch and land a new prototype of its Starship mega-rocket next week. The last 3 exploded.

starship explosion sn10 elon musk thumb
Elon Musk (right) needs Starships to stop exploding (left) to realize his dream of a fully reusable mega-rocket.

Starship launches have become a regular occurrence at SpaceX’s rocket-development facilities in Boca Chica, Texas. For the second time this month, the company is preparing to fly an advanced prototype of its next spaceship. That could happen as early as Monday.

Called Starship serial No. 11, or SN11, the prototype is set to roar tens of thousands of feet into the air, shut off its engines, flip sideways, then freefall back to Earth. Four wing flaps should control the rocket’s fall, and its engines should re-fire just in time to flip it upright and lower it to the landing pad.

SpaceX has launched three such high-altitude test flights already, but each ended with a catastrophic explosion. The first two prototypes, SN8 and SN9, slammed into the landing pad at high speed and exploded immediately. The third, SN10, landed in one piece but blew up 10 minutes later.

starship prototype explosions collage spacex boca chica spadre
From left to right: The SN8, SN9, and SN10 explosions.

All these prototypes represent the upper stage of a two-part system: Eventually, a roughly 23-story booster called Super Heavy would heave the Starship spaceship toward orbit. The whole system is meant to be fully and rapidly reusable, which could enable SpaceX to slash the cost of reaching space 1,000-fold.

SpaceX founder Elon Musk’s long-term vision is for the system to fly astronauts to the moon and power hypersonic travel on Earth. He has said he plans to build 1,000 Starships in order to carry people and cargo to Mars and establish a Martian settlement.

sn11 starship prototype spacex boca chica spadre
Spectators gather to watch SpaceX roll out the SN11 prototype.

SpaceX was preparing the prototype for flight on Friday, after conducting a static-fire engine test, but appeared to cancel those plans about five hours before the launch window closed.

“Standing down SN11 until probably Monday,” Musk tweeted Friday afternoon. “Additional checkouts are needed. Doing our best to land & fully recover.”

We will update this post once SpaceX confirms the launch date.

Watch the Starship prototype fly live

sn10 starship
A screengrab from a SpaceX livestream shows SN10 ascending in the skies above Boca Chica, Texas on March 3, 2021.

SpaceX is expected to broadcast the test flight live, as it did with the last three. That livestream will be embedded below once it becomes available. In the meantime, a few fans of the company are broadcasting from the launch facilities.

LabPadre offers six unique views of the Starship launch site. Below is the channel’s main 4K-resolution feed.

For a more distant view of the launch site – broadcast from the top of a resort in South Padre Island about 6 miles away – check out SPadre’s 24-hour live feed.

NASASpaceflight offers broadcasts with multiple high-quality camera views and input from a group of knowledgeable commentators. Their livestream will be embedded below once it’s available.

Read the original article on Business Insider

SpaceX hopes to launch and land a new prototype of its Starship mega-rocket on Friday. The last 3 exploded.

starship explosion sn10 elon musk thumb
Elon Musk (right) needs Starships to stop exploding (left) to realize his dream of a fully reusable mega-rocket.

Starship launches have become a regular occurrence at SpaceX’s rocket-development facilities in Boca Chica, Texas. For the second time this month, the company is preparing to fly an advanced prototype of its next spaceship. That could happen as early as Friday or over the weekend.

Called Starship serial No. 11, or SN11, the prototype could launch as early as Friday. It’s set to roar tens of thousands of feet into the air, shut off its engines, flip sideways, then freefall back to Earth. Four wing flaps should control the rocket’s fall, and its engines should re-fire just in time to flip it upright and lower it to the landing pad.

SpaceX has launched three such high-altitude test flights already, but each ended with a catastrophic explosion. The first two prototypes, SN8 and SN9, slammed into the landing pad at high speed and exploded immediately. The third, SN10, landed in one piece but blew up 10 minutes later.

starship prototype explosions collage spacex boca chica spadre
From left to right: The SN8, SN9, and SN10 explosions.

All these prototypes represent the upper stage of a two-part system: Eventually, a roughly 23-story booster called Super Heavy would heave the Starship spaceship toward orbit. The whole system is meant to be fully and rapidly reusable, which could enable SpaceX to slash the cost of reaching space 1,000-fold.

SpaceX founder Elon Musk’s long-term vision is for the system to fly astronauts to the moon and power hypersonic travel on Earth. He has said he plans to build 1,000 Starships in order to carry people and cargo to Mars and establish a Martian settlement.

sn11 starship prototype spacex boca chica spadre
Spectators gather to watch SpaceX roll out the SN11 prototype.

Before SpaceX can try to fly and land SN11, it has to conduct a new static fire test, which involves clamping down the rocket and test-firing its engines. Earlier this week, the prototype’s first static fire revealed that one of the Raptor engines needed to be replaced, so it has to try again before launch.

In a unique twist, documentation from the Federal Aviation Administration indicates that SpaceX will try to conduct the static fire on Friday, then reload the engines and fly SN11 before the day is over. The company has until 7:30 p.m. CT – when a local road closure ends – to accomplish the dual feat.

Watch the Starship prototype fly live

sn10 starship
A screengrab from a SpaceX livestream shows SN10 ascending in the skies above Boca Chica, Texas on March 3, 2021.

SpaceX is expected to broadcast the test flight live, as it did with the last three. That livestream will be embedded below once it becomes available. In the meantime, a few fans of the company are broadcasting from the launch facilities.

NASASpaceflight offers broadcasts with multiple high-quality camera views and input from a group of knowledgeable commentators.

LabPadre offers six unique views of the Starship launch site. Below is the channel’s main 4K-resolution feed.

For a more distant view of the launch site – broadcast from the top of a resort in South Padre Island about 6 miles away – check out SPadre’s 24-hour live feed.

The FAA has issued an airspace closure over the area, with further closures on Saturday and Sunday – backup dates in case SpaceX misses the Friday launch window. Both air and road closures are required for launch.

However, these closures can be rescheduled if SpaceX is not ready to fly. Ahead of the SN9 flight, new closures were posted week after week before SpaceX made any launch attempt. We will update this post once SpaceX confirms the launch date for SN11.

Read the original article on Business Insider

SpaceX hopes to launch and land a new prototype of its Starship mega-rocket this week. The last 3 exploded.

starship explosion sn10 elon musk thumb
Elon Musk (right) needs Starships to stop exploding (left) to realize his dream of a fully reusable mega-rocket.

Starship launches have become a regular occurrence at SpaceX’s rocket-development facilities in Boca Chica, Texas. For the second time this month, the company is preparing to fly an advanced prototype of its next spaceship.

Called Starship serial No. 11, or SN11, the prototype could launch as early as Tuesday. It’s set to roar tens of thousands of feet into the air, shut off its engines, flip sideways, then freefall back to Earth. Four wing flaps should control the rocket’s fall, and its engines should re-fire just in time to flip it upright and lower it to the landing pad.

SpaceX has launched three such high-altitude test flights already, but each ended with a catastrophic explosion. The first two prototypes, SN8 and SN9, slammed into the landing pad at high speed and exploded immediately. The third, SN10, landed in one piece but blew up 10 minutes later.

starship prototype explosions collage spacex boca chica spadre
From left to right: The SN8, SN9, and SN10 explosions.

All these prototypes represent the upper stage of a two-part system: Eventually, a roughly 23-story booster called Super Heavy would heave the Starship spaceship toward orbit. The whole system is meant to be fully and rapidly reusable, which could enable SpaceX to slash the cost of reaching space 1,000-fold.

SpaceX founder Elon Musk’s long-term vision is for the system to fly astronauts to the moon and power hypersonic travel on Earth. He has said he plans to build 1,000 Starships in order to carry people and cargo to Mars and establish a Martian settlement.

sn11 starship prototype spacex boca chica spadre
Spectators gather to watch SpaceX roll out the SN11 prototype.

SpaceX may try to fly and land SN11 as early as this week. The Federal Aviation Administration has issued airspace closures in the area for Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and the Cameron County judge has issued local road-closure notices for Wednesday and Thursday. Both air and road closures are required for launch.

However, these closures can be rescheduled if SpaceX is not ready to fly. Ahead of the SN9 flight, new closures were posted week after week before SpaceX made any launch attempt. We will update this post once SpaceX confirms a launch date for SN11.

Watch the Starship prototype fly live

sn10 starship
A screengrab from a SpaceX livestream shows SN10 ascending in the skies above Boca Chica, Texas on March 3, 2021.

SpaceX is expected to broadcast the test flight live, as it did with the last three. That livestream will be embedded below once it becomes available.

In the meantime, a few fans of the company are broadcasting preparation activities at the launch facilities. Some of their video feeds captured a static-fire test last week – that’s when SpaceX fires a rocket’s engines to test them ahead of flight.

LabPadre offers six unique views of the Starship launch site. Below is the channel’s main 4K-resolution feed.

For a more distant view of the launch site – broadcast from the top of a resort in South Padre Island about 6 miles away – check out SPadre’s 24-hour live feed.

NASASpaceflight also covers events at Boca Chica, offering broadcasts with multiple high-quality camera views and input from commentators. Their livestream of the launch will added once it’s available as well.

Read the original article on Business Insider

SpaceX is reportedly close to completing the assembly of a Super Heavy prototype, which will shoot Starship into orbit

Elon
Space X CEO Elon Musk shared a photo of the Super Heavy rocket booster.

Space X has completed “stacking” of its Super Heavy prototype, the first-stage rocket booster that will be used to shoot its Starship spacecraft into orbit, TechCrunch reports.

The Super Heavy booster is around 220 feet tall, which is close to the wingspan of a Boeing 747, without the Starship on top, the report said. Together, the spacecraft will add another 160 feet in height.

In the past few months, the firm hadn’t released any footage of Super Heavy. Then, on Thursday afternoon, Elon Musk, its founder and CEO, posted a photo of the rocket at the company’s South Texas site, next to the Gulf Coast village of Boca Chica.

The first booster “is a production pathfinder, figuring out how to build & transport 70-meter-tall stage. Booster 2 will fly,” Musk tweeted.

Starship and Super Heavy will begin to fly soon if all goes according to Musk’s plan, Space.com reported. The billionaire recently said SpaceX intends to launch Starship to orbit at some point this year. He’s also hoping the Starship-Super Heavy duo will be fully operationally by 2023, the outlet reported.

Earlier this month, SpaceX launched a prototype of its Starship rocket, known as SN10, miles into the air. Even though it landed successfully, the celebrations were short-lived. A few minutes after landing, the rocket exploded.

SpaceX released an HD video of the prototype, which gave a close-up of the engines in action, and showed the rocket bounce upon landing. Observers could also see its legs extend as it came back down to Earth. The explosion was left out of the footage.

In the video description, SpaceX wrote: “Test flights such as SN10’s are about improving our understanding and development of a fully reusable transportation system designed to carry both crew and cargo on long-duration interplanetary flights, and help humanity return to the Moon, and travel to Mars and beyond.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

A cyberpunk scene at SpaceX’s launch facilities: A robot dog inspected the wreckage of a Starship rocket prototype

spacex robot dog zeus starship sn10

SpaceX created a futuristic tableau at its Texas rocket-testing facilities on Thursday, when a robo-dog wandered the wreckage of its latest Starship prototype.

SpaceX launched the rocket prototype, called Starship serial No. 10, or SN10, on Wednesday. Like the last two prototypes before it, SN10 climbed to nearly 33,000 feet above the company’s facilities in the town of Boca Chica. Then it shut off its engines and plummeted to Earth in a belly-flop position, controlling its fall with four wing flaps.

Unlike its predecessors, which both slammed into the ground and exploded immediately, SN10 successfully re-fired its engines to flip itself upright and touch down softly on the ground. But then it exploded spectacularly 10 minutes later.

sn10 starship explosion landing spacex
SpaceX’s SN10 Starship rocket prototype exploded on the landing pad minutes after touchdown on Wednesday.

With the air cleared and the roads reopened, photographers and SpaceX fans flocked to the company’s facilities on  Thursday morning to watch the clean-up from a distance. That’s when they spotted a fascinating four-legged robot wandering the wreckage.

Spadre.com shared videos of the agile bot on Twitter.

 

The life-like machine is a Boston Dynamics “Spot” robot dog, which SpaceX has apparently renamed Zeus, according to photos that show the name printed across a red doghouse where the robot lives.

Zeus has been spotted inspecting SpaceX landing sites before. It’s not clear what exactly the mechanical pooch was doing at the SN10 explosion site, but Zeus is likely outfitted with cameras and sensors to collect data, since approaching wrecked rockets can be unsafe for humans.

SpaceX did not respond to Insider’s request for further details.

 

The rocket Zeus was inspecting is designed as the upper stage of a two-part system; a roughly 23-story booster called Super Heavy would one day heave the Starship spaceship toward orbit. But eliminating these explosions from the vehicle’s landing process is crucial, since SpaceX is designing Starship and Super Heavy to be fully and rapidly reusable. A spaceship that blows up after it lands is, of course, tough to relaunch.

If the system works, though, Starship-Super Heavy could slash the cost of reaching space 1,000-fold, since it would eliminate the need to build new rockets and spaceships for each spaceflight. Musk wants to eventually construct a fleet of reusable Starships to power round-the-world hypersonic travel on Earth, fly astronauts to the moon, and one day carry people to Mars.

Musk has said that he is “highly confident” SpaceX will launch an uncrewed Starship to Mars in 2024, followed by a crewed mission in 2026.

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