SpaceX’s latest starship prototype has come to life.
The Starship SN10 (“Serial No. 10”) vehicle ran its first “static fire” test on Tuesday (February 23) and had three raptor engines at SpaceX 6:03 EST (2303 GMT). Was lit for a few seconds. South Texas site near the Gulf village of Bocachica Village.
A static fire, in which the engine ignites briefly while the rocket remains fixed to the ground, is a common pre-flight checkout for SpaceX. If all goes well in today’s test, the SN10 will be launched shortly (perhaps as early as Thursday (February 25)) in a 6-mile (10 km) high demonstration flight into the skies of South Texas. It’s a schedule.
Starship and Super Heavy: SpaceX Mars-Colonized Vehicles in Image
Starship SN10 static fire! Hopefully it was a great test. 🔥🚀🔥 @ NASASpaceflightpic.twitter.com/ J6cVUypRgY February 23, 2021
This will be the third high altitude test of the Starship vehicle, following a similar excursion by SN8 and SN9 just before the two SN10s on December 2020 and February 2nd this year. Both of these flights went well to the end. The SN8 and SN9 hit the landing pad violently and exploded with a dramatic fireball.
Such flights are an important part of Starship’s development path, which SpaceX considers to be an economically feasible means of colonizing Mars. The Starship System consists of two parts that are completely reusable. A 165-foot (50-meter) high spacecraft called Starship and a giant rocket called Super Heavy.
According to SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk, the final Starship will have six Raptors and the Super Heavy will have about 30 engines. Starship is powerful enough to jump out of the Moon and Mars, but spacecraft need super heavyweights to get off Earth.
No matter how the SN10 launches, we’ll see more starship test flights in the coming weeks and months. Musk recently said SpaceX is aiming to launch a prototype into Earth’s orbit this year, and he imagines a starship that will carry people on a regular basis by 2023.
Mike Wall is the author of “Out There” (Grand Central Publishing, 2018, illustrated by Karl Tate), a book on exploring alien life. Follow him on Twitter @ michaeldwall. Follow us on Twitter @ Spacedotcom or Facebook.
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