SN10 and SN9 are the latest iterations of SpaceX and Elon Musk’s Starship prototypes, which the company has developed in full view from its facility in Boca Chica, Texas. Musk has promisedwill be able to revolutionary point-to-point travel around the globe as well as to the moon, Mars and beyond.
Over the last few years, Starship prototypes have evolved from making short, high-altitude “hops” to high-altitude floating demonstrations. The last two serial numbers, SN8 and SN9, have both flown to altitudes comparable to where commercial jets cross, but then came in for explosive hard landings.
Musk had warned in advance of the tests that he expected such “rapid unplanned separation” incidents to be part of the development process.
Following the flight and crash landing of SN8 in December, the follow-up flight of SN9 suffered a number of delays during January. It was revealed that SN8 had been launched without all the necessary approvals from the Federal Aviation Administration, and a kind of staring competition was developed as the FAA then took the time to grant the launch license to SN9.
Eventually, the FAA was satisfied with the safety precautions for the test flight, and the SN9 finally flew on February 2nd. After its burning return to the ground that afternoon, the FAA announced that they would investigate the landing “accident”.
On Friday, February 19, an FAA spokesman said via email that the agency has closed the landing accident investigation and “cleared the way for SN10 test flights pending FAA approval of license updates.”
“The SN9 vehicle failed within the limits of the FAA safety analysis. Its failed landing and explosion did not endanger the public or the property. All debris was contained in the designated hazard area. The FAA approved the final accident report, including the probable causes and corrective actions.”
Monday morning, Washington Post’s Christian Davenport reported that the FAA launch license has been granted, paving the way for SN10 to launch after a static test fire. Based on the latest temporary flight restrictions, the earliest we see the SN10 launch is Thursday with options also Friday and Saturday.
Go back here for updates and a livestream when SN10 is ready to fly.
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