While the Starship SN8’s test flight is still fresh in our memories, its successor, the SN9, is also getting ready to take off. This highly anticipated high altitude test could even take place this Thursday, January 28.
Like the declared A few days ago Elon Musk, SpaceX plans to step up its development program for the Starship – its future interplanetary spacecraft – during this year 2021, relying on the two launch platforms of its Boca Chica facility , in Texas. A next flight could also take place very quickly.
The SN9 prototype, transferred from its hangar to the launch pad on December 24, underwent its first two tests a few weeks ago – filling the tanks with gaseous nitrogen (ambient test), then filling with gas. ultra-cold liquid nitrogen (cryo test).
Spread over two days, these tests proved that the SN9 could be successfully pressurized, thus making it possible to progress towards the famous “static shot”, which precedes the real launch. Several of these tests have been performed successfully in the past few days. The question is: when will it be launched next?
An imminent theft
We know that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued temporary flight restriction notices (TFR) on Thursday, January 28. During this time, SpaceX will therefore have the opportunity to test its prototype in flight.
During this flight, the Starship SN9 will attempt a thrust to more than ten kilometers altitude. Then, just like the SN8, it will be for the spacecraft to return to Earth at an angle of attack of about 70-80 degrees, so that it can purge its speed, and then rely on control thrusters. reaction so as to return to an upright position to prepare for landing.
That being said, it is also quite possible that the company does not take advantage of this launch window for x or y reason, and prefers to wait until the next opening.
In the meantime, we also know that the next prototype – the SN10 – is almost ready to succeed it, while future prototypes are already in the assembly phase. More than ever, SpaceX is giving itself the chance to multiply the tests before carrying out a first suborbital test at an altitude of 200 km next year.