SpaceX fans have been patiently waiting for the launch of the SN10 – the latest Starship prototype – since the launch of the SN9 on February 2. More than a month has now passed since the last test, with the SN10 spending the entirety of those weeks on the launch pad, teasing SpaceX fans. Now, the firm finally looks like it is ready to launch the SN10.
Will the SN10 launch today?
In short, there is every possibility the SN10 could launch today, March 3.
Officials in Cameron County, Texas, have closed the roads near the Boca Chica testing facility as SpaceX prepares for lift off.
While SpaceX has not given an official time as to when the launch might happen, the planned road closure times give some indication.
The Cameron County website said the roads have been closed between 3pm GMT and midnight.
However, if today’s launch does not go ahead, Cameron County has also closed the roads at the same time on March 4 and March 5.
SpaceX has officially said the launch could go ahead “as early” as March 3, while also detailing the manoeuvres the SN10 will hopefully perform.
SpaceX said: “As early as Wednesday, March 3, the SpaceX team will attempt a high-altitude flight test of Starship serial number 10 (SN10) – our third high-altitude suborbital flight test of a Starship prototype from SpaceX’s site in Cameron County, Texas.
“Similar to the high-altitude flight tests of Starship SN8 and SN9, SN10 will be powered through ascent by three Raptor engines, each shutting down in sequence prior to the vehicle reaching apogee – approximately 10km in altitude.
“SN10 will perform a propellant transition to the internal header tanks, which hold landing propellant, before reorienting itself for reentry and a controlled aerodynamic descent.
“The Starship prototype will descend under active aerodynamic control, accomplished by independent movement of two forward and two aft flaps on the vehicle.
“All four flaps are actuated by an onboard flight computer to control Starship’s attitude during flight and enable precise landing at the intended location.
“SN10’s Raptor engines will then reignite as the vehicle attempts a landing flip manoeuvre immediately before touching down on the landing pad adjacent to the launch mount.
“A controlled aerodynamic descent with body flaps and vertical landing capability, combined with in-space refilling, are critical to landing Starship at destinations across the solar system where prepared surfaces or runways do not exist, and returning to Earth.
“This capability will enable a fully reusable transportation system designed to carry both crew and cargo on long-duration, interplanetary flights and help humanity return to the Moon, and travel to Mars and beyond.”
The company added that a live stream will kick off “a few minutes” before the launch.