New SpaceX Starship prototype passes key test; Elon Musk says it will fly ‘soon’


Putting humans in the picture gives a better idea of just how big the Starship orbital prototype will be. SpaceX founder Elon Musk shared this behind-the-scenes look at workers in Texas with Starship on a transporter in September 2019.

Elon Musk

SpaceX’s path to Mars has so far been marked by fits and starts, but the next flight of Elon Musk’s big rocket prototype could be just days away. Airspace closures issued by the Federal Aviation Administration indicate the company is aiming to get the latest iteration of the Starship developmental craft off the ground on Sunday or Monday.

Of course, it won’t get anywhere near Mars, or even space. The first flight of SN5 is expected to be a 150-meter (492-foot) “hop.” 

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SpaceX aces Starhopper rocket test


You might recall that an earlier test craft called “Starhopper” performed such a flight last year. SN5 is a much larger vehicle that’s designed to eventually be capable of an orbital flight. 

On Thursday, crews at the SpaceX development facility in Boca Chica, Texas, completed a successful static fire of the prototype’s raptor engine, clearing the path for a hop attempt. 

“Starship SN5 just completed full duration static fire. 150m hop soon,” Musk said on Twitter.

Musk said on Twitter last week that SN5 “will attempt to fly later this week,” but Hurricane Hanna had other plans, forcing SpaceX to batten down the hatches at Boca Chica and postpone all major tests. 

It’s been a struggle to get the SN series of prototypes off the ground. 

So far, SN4 exploded after a static fire test, SN3 crumpled during a pressure test and SN1 suffered a similar fate

This, of course, is why you test. SpaceX suffered a similar string of failures before Falcon 9 launches and landings became a routine thing. 

And so the company is pressing forward with Starship. 

It’s possible we could see the big silver rocket fly sometime very soon. Of course, we’ve heard this all before. Fingers crossed. 

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