Today American aerospace manufacturer SpaceX is planning to test their latest Starship Prototype SN15, at their Boca Chica launch site in Texas. The goal of this test is to test the novel “bellyflop” descent and the “flip maneuver” landing burn to further their efforts of sending humans to Mars. If you happen to have the ability to watch Youtube you can catch the test today via the following channels. If you have a multiple monitor setup you built your rig for this moment.
A channel of a team space enthusiast Tim Dodd, who covers many topics related to the field of a rocket scientist. This channel often gets interviews with Elon Musk himself and has built quite a following in the last 8 years.
This channel follows the launches and Testing at the SpaceX site at South Padre Island. It is known for running webcams of the site so the enthusiast can watch the progress daily.
A space enthusiast channel that covers the developments in spaceflight. Marcus focuses on weekly updates to the development in space news.
Another of the space news services that has been in operation for 16 years. This outlet has entered the YouTube world in 2019 and covers the launches and testings of NASA and the US space industry.
The development of this vehicle began in 2012 with the announcement by SpaceX CEO Elon Musk as the “Mars Colonial Transporter”. The name and design of the vehicle have gone through many iterations. Testing began in earnest with the April 2019 test article, Starhopper, a glorified water tank with a rocket engine and landing legs. Several tests of other partial mockups have flown leading to the full-size tests of two Starship prototypes, SN9 and SN9 that were conducted that ended in losses of their vehicles. Like their Falcon 9 rockets, the Starship will launch and land vertically, thus lowering the cost of access to orbit. Unlike their prior efforts, the Starship will use flaps on the sides of the rocket to slow and control the descent, falling horizontal like a skydiver, which is known as the “bellyflop”. This method of control has been demonstrated in the prior tests with great ease. Once close to the surface the rocket will then fire 3 of its engines to flip the rocket from the horizontal to vertical and slow the rocket to a controlled landing. This step has been the point of failure in the previous prior tests. SN8 was lost due to loss of fuel flow, which caused some of the engines to burn a bright green exhaust before crashing in an almost perfect landing. While SN9 only had only one of its three engines reignited resulting in a crash. SN10 completed all the steps and set them down on the landing pad, albeit a bit crooked and hard. The prototype was lost after a residual fire burnt for 3 minutes and resulted in the rapid unscheduled disassembly, a favored euphemism in the SpaceX community. SN11 completed all the steps but was lost due to an engine fire when the ship attempted to relight its engine in a foggy launch. Starships 12 to 14 were scrapped in favor of the newer design that was implemented in SN15.
The Starship is a fully reusable orbital launch vehicle that will be able to lift over 100,000 kg to low earth orbit or 4 times the capacity of the retired Space Shuttle. This launch system consists of two parts a Super Heavy Booster and the Starship orbiter. These vehicles use the new Raptor engines, which are the first full-flow staged-combustion engines to be flown. These engines burn methane and oxygen, the use of methane is important to their goal of going to Mars as the fuel for return trips will be generated on the red planet. 6 of these powerful engines will be used in the Starship, while the Super Heavy will use 28. Orbital refueling will be used to refill the orbiter for the intended trips to Mars or any other mission this vehicle will conduct.
The system is a departure from the traditional construction methods of the aerospace industry. Rather than using a lighter material, both Starship and Super Heavy will be constructed from stainless steel. The building of these components is being done in hangers at the Boca Chica launch site with the engines being shipped in from other SpaceX facilities.