SpaceX’s path to Mars has so far been marked by fits and starts, but the next flight of Elon Musk’s big rocket prototype could be just days away. Airspace closures issued by the Federal Aviation Administration indicate the company is aiming to get the latest iteration of the Starship developmental craft off the ground on Sunday or Monday.
Of course, it won’t get anywhere near Mars, or even space. The first flight of SN5 is expected to be a 150-meter (492 foot) “hop.”
You might recall that an earlier test craft called “Starhopper” successfully performed such a flight last year. SN5 is a much larger vehicle that’s designed to eventually be capable of an orbital flight.
But before SN5 can hop, crews at the SpaceX development facility in Boca Chica, Texas, need to complete a successful static fire of the prototype’s raptor engine. Live streams of the facility showed the prototype’s fuel tank being loaded in preparation for the test firing Thursday morning, but then everything went quiet on the test pad as a small boat was spotted in the exclusion zone, forcing an apparent postponement of the test.
Musk said on Twitter last week that SN5 “will attempt to fly later this week,” but Hurricane Hanna had other plans, forcing SpaceX to batten down the hatches at Boca Chica and postpone all major tests.
It’s been a struggle to get the SN series of prototypes off the ground.
So far,after a static fire test, during a pressure test and .
This, of course, is why you test. SpaceX suffered a similar string of failures before Falcon 9 launches and landings became a routine thing.
And so the company is pressing forward with Starship.
It’s possible we could see the big silver rocket fly sometime soon. Of course, we’ve heard this all before. Fingers crossed.