SpaceX will livestream the Starship SN8 prototype’s upcoming high-altitude flight test. The aerospace company’s decision will offer a small, behind-the-scenes glimpse of a high-risk, high-reward endeavor.
The SN8 is set to undergo its much-anticipated 60,000-foot (approximately 18 kilometers) hop test once it completes a second static fire test.
Who Authorized a Livestream of the Event?
The livestream was confirmed by none other than SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk. The entrepreneur stated on Twitter that the company will indeed livestream the hop test.
Musk, however, also remarked that the livestream will be short, given the risks that are associated with the test.
When will SpaceX Proceed with the Hop Test?
Last September, SpaceX had body flaps installed on the Starship prototype. Flaps are high-lift devices used to reduce the stalling speed of all types of aircrafts. They also provide stability and prevent a spacecraft from wobbling or tumbling during its flight.
On October 7, Elon Musk confirmed the success of the SN8’s cryogenic proof test, despite a leak near the engine mounts.
On October 12, three Raptor engines were fitted in the SN8’s iteration of the Starship launch vehicle. The hop test will effectively be powered by those three engines, which are capable of producing a thrust almost as powerful as nine Merlin engines that power Falcon 9 boosters.
On October 20, the SN8 successfully went through its first static fire test.
On October 21, SpaceX engineers stacked the SN8 to its full height by installing a nose cone on the prototype. A nose cone is the forwardmost section of a rocket, and is designed to reduce aerodynamic drag to a minimum. Drag is the aerodynamic force that opposes an object’s motion through the air.
SpaceX is now focusing on a second triple-Raptor static fire test. The company initially set a launch window on Friday, October 30 between 5am and 11am CDT.
Musk, however, stated on Twitter that “some challenges with high winds” prevented SpaceX from going through with the test.
It is still unclear when SpaceX will exactly proceed with the second static fire. The company, however, issued two test window dates: on Tuesday and Wednesday between 9 and 11 am CST (10 am and 12 pm EDT).
The second static fire test is thus set to take place this week. The actual hop test will follow soon after, and will undoubtedly occur no later than mid-to-late November.