SpaceX is preparing to launch its next Starship prototype, known as SN10, on a ten-kilometer test flight from its Boca Chica site. These preparations should be able to accelerate. SpaceX and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) of the United States have just concluded their investigation into the flight of the Starship SN9.
FAA closes investigation into SN9 crash
You know, the Starship SN9 prototype flew successfully on February 2 over South Texas, reaching an altitude of ten kilometers, before failing to land. Unfortunately, one of the ship’s three Raptor engines had not re-ignited. Still, the explosive crash of this prototype (the second, after that of the SN8) had prompted the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to supervise an investigation into the incident.
As a reminder, it is this agency that is responsible for regulations and controls concerning civil aviation in the United States. Here, it is she who gives the green (or not) to SpaceX for the Starship test flights after having delimited a “no-way” zone around the take-off and landing site.
That being said, the SN9 file is now closed. At the end of this investigation, it emerged that the vehicle had indeed crashed. “Within the limits of the FAA safety analysis”, notes the agency’s statement, confirming that its landing and its explosion had not endangered anyone. The FAA therefore approves SpaceX’s final accident report, including probable causes and corrective measures that will be taken.
SN10 is getting ready
This is great news that paves the way for SpaceX’s next test flight, with its SN10 prototype, installed on its launch pad for several weeks. It too will be equipped with three Raptor engines.
A priori, several static shots could be operated this week. Moreover, the inhabitants of Boca Chica received a notice warning that a siren would sound on Monday 22/02 between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. (local time) – that is to say between 4 p.m. and 1 a.m. French time – ten minutes before the first of these static ignition tests. If all goes well, SpaceX can then schedule a new launch at ten kilometers altitude in a few days.
In a recent tweet, Elon Musk had estimated at around 60% the chances of success of this new test.
Also remember that during a podcast recorded a few days ago with Joe Rogan, Musk said that SpaceX still aims to put a prototype of Starship into orbit as early as this year. He also thinks that the first manned flights could be scheduled from 2023.