Elon Musk discusses future of SpaceX's Starship system
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SpaceX’s Starship programme has been a rollercoaster of emotions with four launches under the company’s belt – and four spectacular explosions. The rocket that could one day fly humans to Mars is being tested at SpaceX’s secretive facility in Boca Chica, South Texas. To date, Elon Musk’s company has only tried to launch and land four Starship prototypes – SN8, SN9, SN10 and SN11 – all to catastrophic results.
The SN10 came close to landing in one piece after acing its launch and descent but was damaged when it hit the ground too hard.
As the rocket stood lopsided on the launch pad, just eight minutes after touchdown, it erupted into a ball of flames.
SpaceX fans worldwide, however, are hoping for the success of the SN15 thanks to a raft of upgrades.
The company is confident enough the rocket will outshine its predecessors that the Starships SN12, SN13 and SN14 were all scrapped in favour of the SN15.
Elon Musk’s die-hard followers have shared their excitement for the upcoming launch on social media.
One person tweeted: “@SpaceX @elonmusk Any information when we can expect the next SN15 launch?”
Another person said: “I’m so bored. I’m just waiting for the SN15 flight test. And I think that it will land safely.
Some people, however, are being cautious about the rocket’s chances of success.
One fan said: “I have this horrible gut feeling that something is gonna go wrong and SN15 won’t land.
“I had the same feeling with SN11 and I was right that makes things worse.”
SpaceX Starship explodes on landing during a test
Will Starship SN15 launch this week?
SpaceX has not confirmed a launch date and chances are this crucial bit of information will be kept under wraps until the last minute.
There are, however, some clues to suggest SN15 will not be flying until next week.
The rocket is presently undergoing a checklist of pre-flight tests, including cryo proofs and static fires.
On Monday, April 12, SpaceX conducted a so-called cryo proof during which the rocket was pumped full of liquid nitrogen.
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Starship SN15 will also have to undergo a static fire test during, which the rocket’s three Raptor engines will briefly fire while the SN15 is tethered to the ground.
The rocket will not be cleared for flight until these tests are completed to a satisfactory degree.
Eagle-eyed SpaceX fans have also noticed a Starlink satellite was mounted on the spacecraft and documents filed with the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) suggest SN15 will not launch before April 20.
SpaceX has filed a request to test a Starlink terminal around Boca Chica while in flight.
The request reads: “The authority requested herein will be sharply limited in duration: SpaceX requests to operate under this STA for a period of only 60 days, beginning on April 20, 2020, or the date on which the STA requested herein is granted, whichever is later.
“These operations will only occur on the ground or during test flights of durations not to exceed eight minutes.”
As of Tuesday morning (UK time) there are no road closures pencilled in around Boca Chica, suggesting a launch is not yet on the table.
However, SpaceX has been known to go ahead with its plans without due notice, so stay tuned for more news.
You can follow Express.co.uk for all the latest SpaceX launch news, live streams and updates.
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