SpaceX’s prototype Starship SN8 rocket stands on the company’s launch pad in Boca Chica, Texas before testing the engine.
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SpaceX aims to launch its latest prototype Starship missile early ‘next week’, CEO Elon Musk On Tuesday, it will be the company’s most ambitious flight test yet.
Musk confirmed that the prototype of Starship Serial Number 8, or SN8, had successfully completed a test launch of its three engines before attempting to fly. The next launch aims to reach an altitude of about 50,000 feet – well above the 500-foot flights of the SN5 and SN6 prototype predecessors, which completed flight tests on August 5 and September 3, respectively.
The prototypes are built of stainless steel and represent the first versions of the MiSK missile It was unveiled last year. The company is developing Starship with the goal of launching cargo and up to 100 people simultaneously on missions to the Moon and Mars.
SpaceX aims to pass many more stages of development with its Starship SN8 flight.
Musk said in a tweet: “The goals are to test 3 engine ascents, body racks, moving from main tanks to vertical tanks, and reversing the landing.”
When asked his opinion of the chances of landing the Starship prototype after the flight, Musk gave low odds of complete success on the first try.
“A lot of things have to go in the right direction, so maybe the chance of a third,” Musk said.
Musk added, “But that’s why there is SN 9 and SN10.”
These later prototypes are already underway at SpaceX’s growing facility in Boca Chica, Texas. While SpaceX’s fleet of Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy missiles can be partially reused, Musk’s goal is to make the Starship fully reusable – imagine a missile closer to a commercial airliner, with short lead times between flights where the only major cost is fuel.
Musk said the SN9 and SN10 feature “many small improvements,” with “major upgrades” planned once SpaceX starts working on the SN15 prototype.
The first SpaceX prototype is under construction near Boca Chica, Texas in 2019.
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