SpaceX appears to be preparing for a test launch of its SN9 Starship prototype, which could come as early as this weekend.
The aerospace company conducted a triple Raptor Static Fire Test of the next-generation spaceflight system on Wednesday at SpaceX’s facility in Boca Chica, Texas, which briefly showed the test vehicle’s three engines light up.
“Seemed like it was only a second or so, but could be by design to protect the pad and still get the data they want,” NASASpaceflight.com’s Chris Bergin said.
The static fire test is part of a routine series of checks before a test launch. Due to a shorter than expected test firing on Wednesday, a second static fire test may be conducted on Thursday. If all goes according to plan, the test launch could come as early as Friday.
Cameron County Judge Eddie Trevino Jr. has ordered road closures around the area of the facility for “anticipated test launch activities for SpaceX” from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. local time on Thursday and Friday. According to the Federal Aviation Administration, airspace restrictions are also in place around Boca Chica for Saturday and Sunday as well.
A spokesperson for SpaceX did not immediately return FOX Business’ request for comment.
A potential test launch of the SN9 comes after its predecessor, the SN8, achieved the first successful flight of significant altitude last month, reaching the same altitude as commercial jets.
The successful test was followed by a fall back to Earth with a new “flip manuever,” which appeared to succeed in orienting the rocket. However, the ship came into the launch pad too fast, meeting a fiery end.
“Successful ascent, switchover to header tanks & precise flap control to landing point!” Musk tweeted at the time. “Fuel header tank pressure was low during landing burn, causing touchdown velocity to be high & RUD, but we got all the data we needed!”
Starship is a fully reusable transportation system designed to carry both crew and cargo to Earth orbit, the Moon, Mars and beyond. Starship is expected to be the world’s most powerful launch vehicle ever developed, with the ability to carry in excess of 100 metric tonnes to Earth orbit.
In addition to SN9, SpaceX’s SN10 is reportedly near completion. In response to an unofficial aerial photo edited to show two Starships at SpaceX’s South Texas launch pad, Musk teased that multi-Starship test operations could become a reality “real soon.”