SpaceX is gearing up for the first full-up test-firing Thursday of all 33 engines on the booster for the company’s Starship mega-rocket in Texas, a critical milestone on the path to launching the giant vehicle on its first orbital test flight, which could happen as soon as March if this week’s test goes well.
SpaceX’s latest Starship test flight apparently ended with another explosion Tuesday in South Texas, but dense fog obscured clear views of the launch and failed landing. The Federal Aviation Administration said late Tuesday it is working with SpaceX to determine if light debris reported in a nearby town came from the Starship test rocket.
SpaceX scrubbed the launch of its next Starship test rocket Friday afternoon, and the the next opportunity for the atmospheric test flight is now expected Tuesday. SpaceX plans to launch and land the rocket at company’s South Texas development complex after losing three previous prototypes in explosions.
The latest prototype of SpaceX’s Starship launch vehicle — Starship SN10 — took off from the company’s South Texas test site and flew to an altitude of more than 30,000 feet Wednesday, then descended to a controlled vertical landing after two previous test vehicles crashed at touchdown. Minutes later, the 16-story test rocket exploded in a fireball, but the test flight appeared to be a major step forward in the early stages of the Starship program.
A full-size prototype of SpaceX’s heavy-lift Starship launch vehicle soared high into the atmosphere Wednesday in a spectacular test flight over South Texas, and successfully guided itself to a beachside landing site before exploding at touchdown. Elon Musk, SpaceX’s founder and CEO, hailed the nearly seven-minute test flight as a success.