- Earlier this month, SpaceX successfully conducted a hop test of its Starship prototype, SN5.
- SN5's successor, SN6, began its testing campaign this week.
- SpaceX is rapidly producing Starship prototypes.
After SpaceX's Starship prototype SN5 successfully hopped earlier this month, the company is already planning to test its successor, SN6.
🚀 You love rockets. We love rockets. Let's nerd out over them together.
SN6 is already settled on the test pad at SpaceX's Boca Chica, Texas facility. On Sunday, engineers loaded the vehicle with liquid nitrogen and conducted a cryogenic proof test, NASASpaceflight.com reports. SN6 will undergo a static fire test of its raptor engine before it's cleared to hop.
But this doesn't mean SN5 will be relegated to the corners of some dusty warehouse. SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk tweeted SN5 will likely fly again, but the vehicle needs a few repairs first—specifically to its legs.
Not sure yet, but hopefully. Will need leg & other repairs. Probably SN6 flies before SN5. We need to make flights simple & easy — many per day.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 8, 2020
SpaceX is already developing additional Starship prototypes. SN7 is slated to get a new alloy test tank, which engineers will test until it bursts. Meanwhile, SN8, which is already in production, will feature "body flaps & nosecone," according to a tweet from Musk.
Musk also tweeted that SpaceX plans to conduct several short hops before eventually moving on to "high altitude" hops with body flaps attached to the each vehicle. Once the company nails down the 12-mile-high altitude test, it's off to orbit for Starship.
We’ll do several short hops to smooth out launch process, then go high altitude with body flaps— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 5, 2020
SN5's historic hop marked the first time a full-scale Starship prototype took to the skies. The vehicle's raptor engine burst to life, sending it roughly 500 feet into the air before it slowly drifted back down to the pad. Previously, SpaceX's short, stubby vehicle, Starhopper, was the only Starship prototype to successfully make it off the ground. SpaceX tested that vehicle in August 2019.
In April, NASA awarded SpaceX a contract to develop plans for a human lunar landing system for the upcoming Artemis mission to the moon. SpaceX plans to adapt its Starship rocket for the mission. Ultimately, Musk hopes to use Starship to deliver passengers to the moon, Mars, and beyond.
You Might Also Like