SpaceX boss Elon Musk has confirmed that the latest attempt to launch and land its Mars-bound Starship spacecraft will go ahead on Wednesday.
Starship SN10 is already on the launchpad at SpaceX’s Boca Chica facility in Texas, and has an eight hour window to achieve what it predecessors could not.
If successful, SN10 will become the first Starship prototype to achieve a landing after flying to a high altitude, with similar tests of SN8 and SN8 ending in fiery explosions.
The launch window runs from 9am local time (3pm GMT) until 6pm (12am GMT, Thursday).
SpaceX will be providing a live stream of the launch, which will go live shortly before the attempt is made.
We will have the stream right here as soon as it’s available, and you can follow all the latest updates right here.
Still plenty of time left
There is more than five hours left in this launch window, so still plenty of time left for SpaceX to pull this off today.
Anthony Cuthbertson3 March 2021 18:19
Starahip countdown on hold?
There has been no more venting from Starship since the condenser, suggesting the countdown may be on hold. We’ll keep you posted when we have an update.
Anthony Cuthbertson3 March 2021 18:15
Starship countdown timeline
The next steps on the Starship countdown timeline after the condenser are the skirt vent, followed by the upper tank vent, then the tri-vent.
Anthony Cuthbertson3 March 2021 17:59
We have venting! That’s the condenser spewing vapour from the bottom of the craft, which generally starts just over 30 minutes before lift off.
Anthony Cuthbertson3 March 2021 17:50
Starship fuelling imminent
It looks like Starship has finished pre-flight checks and is entering the fuelling stage imminently.
As the lift-off ticks down, Starship SN10 will be hoping to avoid the mistakes of its predecessors.
This incredible composite image by photographer Richard Angle (@RDAnglePhoto on Twitter) shows how close SN8 came to achieving a landing. After completing the complex landing-flip manoeuvre, it managed to right itself but came in too heavy.
Anthony Cuthbertson3 March 2021 17:28
Pre-flight checks are still underway, and while today’s launch schedule remains vague, so to does Starship’s overall timeline.
The first commercial flight is expected to take place in 2023, with Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa already booked in for a flight around the moon.
Elon Musk says the first crewed missions to Mars could then occur either in 2024 or 2026 at the earliest.
Missions to Mars will launch from the moon but SpaceX has plans to construct Starship launchpads all over the world. These will be used to ferry people at supersonic speeds around the planet, as well as to launch passengers to the moon, and from there to Mars.
Last month, Musk confirmed that some of these launchpads will be constructed on disused oil rigs. You can read the full story here:
Anthony Cuthbertson3 March 2021 17:00
View from the beaches
Some observers estimate that we are around 1.5 hours away from the test taking place, though there has been no official word from SpaceX yet.
The beaches around Boca Chica are already filling up with people hopeful of witnessing Starship SN10 take flight.
Anthony Cuthbertson3 March 2021 16:38
We’re one hour into the launch window and the weather is looking fairly overcast in Boca Chica right now. Forecasts suggest it will be much the same for the rest of the day, though hopefully this won’t impact the launch. Progress at the launchpad continues to progress.
Anthony Cuthbertson3 March 2021 16:13
You can read more about Maezawa’s dearMoon project, and how to apply, here:
Anthony Cuthbertson3 March 2021 16:04
To the moon
Elon Musk has said there will be hundreds of uncrewed Starship flights before humans are allowed on board, but plans are already underway for the first commercial flight.
Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa paid to be the first private customer to ride around the moon aboard a future Starship. Today, he invited people to apply to join his nine-person crew, saying he wants “people from all kinds of backgrounds to join”.
The trip is scheduled for 2023.
Anthony Cuthbertson3 March 2021 16:02