SpaceX has just launched the engine of its latest Starship prototype, paving the way for a test flight in the near future.
Today (July 30) Starship SN5 conducted a “static fire” test, releasing its single Raptor engine flared while the vehicle remained tied to the ground in SpaceX’s South Texas units near Boca Chica.
The successful test apparently earned the opportunity for the stainless steel SN5, a pilot version of the SpaceX Mars colonizing Starship spacecraft, to slip on a leash.
Starship SN5 has just finished a static fire. A 150-meter jump will be achieved soon, “said SpaceX founder and CEO. posted today on Twitter (July 30).
Related: SpaceX Starship and Super Heavy Mars rocket in pictures
SpaceX kept repeating the final design of Starship through a series of SN prototypes. Most of the SN5 precursors were lost during a certain test process – pressure tests or construction of fires. SN4, for example, exploded during a static fire on May 30th, the fifth such prototype test.
However, SpaceX doesn’t seem inclined to test the SN5 in so many engine tests. If there’s any guide on Musko’s tweeter, the vehicle could climb about 500 feet (150 meters) into the South Texas sky sometime in the next few days.
Only one Starhip prototype has completed such a casual flight so far: the stubborn Starhopper is an early variant that left after 2019. August. A few hundred feet went out.
The final version of the Starship will have six Raptor engines, will be about 50 feet (50 m) high and will be able to carry up to 100 people, Musk said. The spacecraft will launch a giant missile called Super Heavy, powered by 31 Raptors.
Starship and Super Heavy will be fully and quickly reused, Musk said. The billionaire businessman predicts that the duo will eventually meet all of SpaceX’s needs, from launching satellites into Earth orbit to transferring passengers to the Moon, Mars and beyond.
The space flight system could get up and running quickly if testing and development went well. SpaceX said the first Starship / Super Heavy missions – most likely commercial satellite launches – could come as early as 2021.
Mike Wall is the author of Out There (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book on the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook.