The SpaceX prototype rocket Starship SN8 stands on the company’s launch pad in Boca Chica, Texas before an engine test.
SpaceX aims to launch its latest Starship rocket prototype as early as “next week,” CEO Elon Musk said Tuesday in what would be the company’s most ambitious flight test of the rocket to date.
Musk confirmed that Starship prototype Serial Number 8 or SN8 successfully completed a test firing of its three engines prior to the flight test. This next launch aims to reach an altitude of about 50,000 feet ̵
The prototypes are built of stainless steel and represent the first versions of the rocket that Musk unveiled last year. The company is developing Starship with the goal of launching cargo and as many as 100 people at a time on missions to the Moon and Mars.
SpaceX aims to pass several milestones for further development with Starship SN8’s flight.
“Goal is to test 3 engine ascents, body flaps, transition from main tank to main tank and landing flip,” Musk said in a tweet.
When asked what he thought about the chances of the Starship prototype landing intact after the flight, the Musk SN8 gave low odds of complete success on the first try.
“A lot of things have to go right, so maybe 1/3 chance,” Musk said.
“But that’s why we have SN 9 & SN10,” Musk added.
These later prototypes are already underway at the SpaceX growing facility in Boca Chica, Texas. While SpaceX’s fleet of Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets are partially reusable, Musk’s goal is to make Starship fully reusable – imagine a rocket more akin to a commercial aircraft, with short delivery times between flights, where the only major costs is fuel.
Musk said the SN9 and SN10 have “many small improvements” with “major upgrades” planned when SpaceX begins work on the prototype SN15.
SpaceX’s first Starship prototype under construction near Boca Chica, Texas in 2019.
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