Another SpaceX Starship prototype could fly as early as Sunday following a successful but fiery high-altitude test in December.
The current prototype, SN9, test-fired its three Raptor engines Wednesday. But the test was unusually short and chatter on Twitter suggests that SpaceX could complete another static fire test at its Boca Chica, Texas launch site on Friday.
Last month, a SpaceX Starship prototype, SN8, executed the highest-altitude test flight so far, soaring roughly 41,000 feet. During its flight, the SN8 maneuvered to a horizontal position, then went upright again before the landing attempt. It exploded upon impact.
SpaceX and CEO Elon Musk still viewed the flight as a success as key features were tested while valuable data was collected.
The latest SpaceX Starship prototype should perform a similar test. FAA flight restrictions around SpaceX’s Texas facilities are reportedly in place for Sunday, Monday and Tuesday according to reports on Twitter.
Boeing’s Answer To SpaceX Starship Awaits Test
The SpaceX Starship is being designed as a deep-space spacecraft to travel to the moon and colonize Mars. But it is also envisioned as a heavy-lift launcher to put payloads in orbit as well as a hypersonic intercontinental passenger vehicle.
Meanwhile, Boeing’s (BA) Space Launch System deep-space rocket is scheduled for its hot fire test, no earlier than Jan. 17, according to NASA. The test, the final of the Green Run tests for the core stage, will involve firing all four of the Aerojet Rocketdyne (AJRD) RS-25 engines simultaneously to simulate launch conditions.
The SLS rocket is part of NASA’s Artemis moon program to return astronauts to the moon. But the program is currently facing delays and massive cost overruns.