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SpaceX Attempts Second High-Altitude Launch of a Starship Prototype

SpaceX Attempts Second High-Altitude Launch of a Starship Prototype

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Launch of Starship prototype SN8 on December 9, 2020.

Launch of Starship prototype SN8 on December 9, 2020.
Image: SpaceX

SpaceX is scheduled to launch Starship prototype SN9 later today, in what will be the second high-altitude test of the company’s next-gen rocket. You can watch the action live right here.

Update: 4:36 p.m. ET: Today’s launch has been scrubbed due to high winds. No word yet if SpaceX will try again tomorrow.

The window for today’s launch is between 1:00 and 7:00 p.m. EDT (12:00 to 6:00 p.m. CST). That said, it’s hard to predict these things, and there’s no guarantee the rocket will even go up today. The test vehicle, Starship prototype SN9, is set to launch from the company’s facility in Boca Chica, Texas.

There doesn’t appear to be an official SpaceX feed for today’s launch, but that won’t stop us from watching this candle get lit. We’ve got two live feeds for you, one from LabPadre and the other from NASASpaceflight.

Not much is known about today’s scheduled launch, but it appears to be a repeat of the uncrewed launch from December 9, 2020, when SpaceX sent Starship prototype SN8 to an altitude of 7.8 miles (12.5 km). The rocket exploded in a gigantic fireball while trying to stick the landing.

Aside from that, the test seemed to go reasonably well, with SpaceX CEO Elon Musk describing the test as a “successful ascent.” No doubt, the data collected from that launch will have been used to refine the one conducted today, in which the rocket will once again fly to high altitude and attempt a landing. A successful test would move the company a step closer to sending an uncrewed Starship rocket all the way to space.

Once complete, the 165-foot-tall (50-meter) rocket will hopefully deliver cargo and passengers to Earth orbit, the Moon, Mars, and maybe even farther into the solar system. Starship is intended as a hybrid vehicle, performing duties as either an independent rocket or as the second stage of a reusable launch system (with a SpaceX Super Heavy serving as the first stage). Incredibly, the company would like to “catch” the Super Heavy booster with the launch tower arm and possibly re-launch the vehicle an hour later.

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