Musk announced a test flight of the Starship prototype to an altitude of 18.3 kmSeptember 15, 2020
SpaceX will complete assembly of the next prototype of the reusable heavy spacecraft Starship with the serial number SN8 in about a week, the founder of the company Elon Musk said on Twitter. It is this prototype that will have to make its third test flight in October – this time to an altitude of 60 thousand feet or 18.3 km.
At the moment, SpaceX has two prototypes that have passed all ground tests and have already made jumps of 150 meters – these are SN5 and SN6. How they will be used in further tests is not yet clear. Most likely, next time we will see them in tests on jump flights with the simultaneous inclusion of 3 engines or more.
For test flights at high altitudes, the company assembles the following versions of the prototype – with a head fairing and stabilizers required for flights to an altitude of tens of kilometers. Exactly what Musk wrote, SN8 will be.
In addition, its construction was supposed to use a new steel grade for SpaceX engineers, simpler and cheaper than in the first prototypes.
After the SN8 is assembled, a full cycle of ground tests awaits it – including the resistance to pressure in the fuel tanks and the static burn test of engines. There will be two tests with the engines switched on, and only after the second the prototype will be recognized as ready for flight tests.
Taking into account the time required for ground tests, the SN8 will be ready for flight no earlier than the second half of October. SpaceX has already submitted an application to conduct flight tests in Boca Chica in October-November, which indicates a maximum lift of the prototype under test of 30 km. Musk also noted on Twitter that the flight is planned to an altitude of 60 thousand feet (approximately 18.3 km).
This will not be the last test flight in 2020 and by the end of the year the company will have time to complete at least one more at an altitude of 60-70 km, if the flight of 18 km is successful. If it ends in an accident, then SpaceX will repeat it within 1-2 months. If everything goes more or less according to plan, then Starship will first reach the border of space no later than April-May 2021.
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