In yesterday’s footage recorded by Mary (@BocaChicaGal) shows SpaceX’s heavy machinery is clearing the landing pad from the remains of SN8. Elon Musk had earlier said that the SN8 nosecone might be preserved in memory of SN8.
The static fire test was expected yesterday but due to unknown reasons it was delayed. Today might be the day when SpaceX conducts the static fire test on SN9.
Starship SN8 was the first prototype with an integrated nose cone (previously known as fairing). This integration eliminated the need for catching the fairing separately. Elon Musk and his team have implemented the ‘cycle of continuous improvement‘ at SpaceX the same way it’s in practice at Tesla.
This will the 2nd ever high-altitude flight of a Starship prototype — first SN8 and now SN9. However, Elon Musk said that making prototypes is easy, the hardest part is production. Musk wants to build 1,000 Starships for Mars colonization, it’s a daunting task even more than Tesla’s ‘production hell’.
SN9 is also the first Starship prototype completely made of 401 stainless steel (the Cybertruck will be made from 30X series).
Last month, Elon Musk took a couple of photos with the Starship SN9 prototype. In the following one, he’s posing under the tall and mighty SN9 erected inside the high bay at SpaceX Boca Chica test site.
Tim Dodd (Everyday Astronaut) explains how the Starship SN9 test flight will actually occur:
SN9 will lift off from Boca Chica, Texas under the power of its three Raptor engines. The Raptor engines will shut off one by one during ascent to decrease loads and acceleration on the vehicle. At apogee, the single Raptor engine still burning will initiate the vertical-to-horizontal flip before shutting off. SN9 will make use of its body flaps to keep it stable during descent. Prior to landing, SN9 will ignite two of its Raptor engines to reorientate itself back into a vertical position and perform a propulsive landing.via EveryDayAstronaut.com
One major change SpaceX has made from SN8 to SN9 is the change of pressurized fuel for the header tank. Elon Musk unveiled via Twitter that the SN9 header tank will now be pressurized with ‘helium’ instead of GOX (gaseous oxygen)/Kerosene. This is a major shift and part of SpaceX’s continuous improvement cycle as we mentioned before.
Update: SpaceX has conducted the SN9 static fire test and the 12.5 km test flight is expected to happen coming Saturday (01/09/2021).