SpaceX’s Starship SN15 Prototype Fired Up To Prep For Test Flight

SpaceX's Starship SN15 Prototype Fired Up To Prep For Test Flight

SpaceX’s latest Starship prototype has roared to life after the company performed the first “static fire” test on Starship SN15 on Monday, April 26, at 5:57 p.m. EDT (2157 GMT). The stainless-steel vehicle’s three Raptor engines were fired up briefly even as the craft remained anchored to the ground at SpaceX’s South Texas site, close to the Gulf Coast hamlet of Boca Chica Village.

Reports have it that the SN15 will soon leave its current ground-bound situation. The recent static fire was a major checkout ahead of a high-altitude test flight. This will take the vehicle about 6.2 miles, approximately 10 kilometers, into the Texas skies soon, sometimes in the coming days.

SN15 will be the fifth Starship prototype attempting this flight in less than six months. The other four prototypes all flew well until the very end, failing to land safely and ultimately ending up in pieces. 

SpaceX is currently in the process of developing Starship to get people and cargo to the moon, Mars and other distant destinations in space.  The final system will include a 165-foot-tall (50 meters) spacecraft called Starship. The craft was recently picked by NASA as the moon lander for its crewed Artemis program, and a giant first-stage booster known as Super Heavy.

The two elements will be made fully and rapidly reusable, potentially slashing the cost of spaceflight dramatically, according to SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk.

SpaceX hopes that Starship and Super Heavy will be up and running in the soonest possible time, with Musk recently stating that he thinks the final system will be fully operational by 2023.

The latest static fire came just three days after the launch of Crew-2, which is SpaceX’s second operational crewed mission to the International Space Station for NASA. Four astronauts rode to the orbiting lab aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule, which launched Friday, April 23, on a Falcon 9 rocket — an entirely different spaceflight system than Starship.

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