SpaceX’s newest Starship prototype simply roared to life.
The Starship SN10 (“Serial No. 10”) automobile carried out its first “static fire” test on Tuesday (Feb. 23), lighting up its three Raptor engines for just a few seconds at 6:03 p.m. EST (2303 GMT) at SpaceX’s South Texas website, close to the Gulf Coast settlement of Boca Chica Village.
Static fires, during which engines briefly ignite whereas a rocket stays anchored to the bottom, are a typical preflight checkout for SpaceX. If all went nicely with at this time’s test, SN10 stays on observe to launch quickly — maybe as early as Thursday (Feb. 25) — on a 6-mile-high (10 kilometers) demonstration flight into the South Texas skies.
Starship and Super Heavy: SpaceX’s Mars-colonizing automobiles in photos
Starship SN10 static fireplace! Hopefully, it was an ideal test. 🔥🚀🔥@NASASpaceflight pic.twitter.com/J6cVUypRgYFebruary 23, 2021
It would be the third high-altitude test for a Starship automobile, after comparable jaunts in December 2020 and Feb. 2 of this yr by SN10’s two speedy predecessors, SN8 and SN9. Both of these flights went nicely till the very finish; SN8 and SN9 slammed onerous onto their touchdown pads, exploding in dramatic fireballs.
Such flights are a vital a part of the event path for Starship, which SpaceX sees because the automobile that may make Mars colonization economically possible. The Starship system will encompass two totally reusable elements: a 165-foot-tall (50 meters) spacecraft known as Starship and an enormous rocket generally known as Super Heavy.
The last Starship may have six Raptors, and Super Heavy will sport about 30 of the engines, SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk has stated. Starship shall be highly effective sufficient to launch itself off the moon and Mars, however the spacecraft will want Super Heavy to get off Earth.
We’ll seemingly see many extra Starship test flights over the approaching weeks and months, irrespective of how SN10’s launch goes. Musk not too long ago stated that SpaceX goals to launch a prototype to Earth orbit this yr, and he envisions Starship carrying folks recurrently by 2023.
Mike Wall is the creator of “Out There” (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a guide concerning the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook.