SpaceX conduct static fire engine test on Starship SN9
SpaceX fans are desperate to learn when the Starship Serial Number (SN9) will earn its wings. The 165ft-tall spacecraft has been rolled out onto the launch pat at Boca Chica, South Texas, last month but news of its launch date has been scant. The prototype spacecraft will launch on a 41,000ft hop and attempt a soft pad landing, more than a month after its past iteration, the SN8, went up in a ball of flames when it failed to stick its landing.
YouTube star and rocket enthusiast Matt Lowne tweeted: “SpaceX are hitting the ground running this year with 2021’s first rocket launch going ahead smoothly!
“Over the next few days we’ll get to see more SN9 activity, and Electron launch, another Falcon 9, and Virgin’s pegasus-style LauncherOne vehicle!”
Another SpaceX fan tweeted: “Alright, enough with boring news, when does SN9 launch?’
And a third person said: “I can’t wait anymore for SN9 launch.”
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Before the Starship test rocket can fly, SpaceX needs to complete a number of wet rehearsals to ensure SN9 is flight-ready.
On Wednesday, January 6, the rocket briefly fired its three Raptor engines during a so-called static fire test.
During a static fire, the rocket’s engines are fired for a few seconds with the rocket still tethered to the ground.
The test gives SpaceX the opportunity to measure pressures, temperatures and fuel flow before the real deal, typically a few days later.
SpaceX is expected to perform another static fire test today (January 12) after a notice was issued to Boca Chica’s residents.
What time will the Starship SN9 launch?
SpaceX is yet to confirm a launch date for the SN9 although the rocket is expected to fly this week.
No flight restrictions have been issued for the airspace around Boca Chica, with the latest in effect for Friday, January 15.
The note to airmen or NOTAM has been issued “to provide a safe environment for rocket launch and recovery”.
The NOTAM is in effect from 2pm to 11.59pm GMT, suggesting SN9 will launch within this time window.
Two NOTAMs are also in effect for January 13 and 14, so the earliest the rocket could launch is Wednesday.
Express.co.uk will update this article as soon a launch time is confirmed.
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What is the Starship SN9?
Starship Serial Number 9 or SN9 is the next iteration of the prototype rocket.
SpaceX is in the process of developing a multi-planetary vehicle capable of ferrying humans to and from Mars.
Starship will fly atop of the Super Heavy booster vehicle to create what SpaceX has called the world’s most powerful launch vehicle.
Starship and Super Heavy will stand more than 390ft-tall and carry 100 tons of cargo into orbit.
SpaceX boss Elon Musk hopes Starship will carry the first humans to Mars by the year 2026.
SpaceX said: “Building cities on Mars will require affordable delivery of significant quantities of cargo and people.
“The fully reusable Starship system uses in-space propellant transfer to achieve this and carry people on long-duration, interplanetary flights.”
Starship will also serve missions into low Earth orbit (LEO), the International Space Station (ISS) and the Moon.
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