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SpaceX performs another static fire test on Starship SN11, high-altitude flight coming today (scrubbed)


Starship SN11 prototype was not able to liftoff after the 1st static fire test besides the planned high-altitude test earlier this week. The delay basically happened due to one of the Raptor engines on SN11 was required to be swapped after the previous static fire.

The new Raptor engine #SN46 was installed onto the Starship SN11 on Wednesday night and today it went through a successful static fire test.

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Local Starship observer Mary(@BocaChicaGal) living in the nearby Boca Chica village has just informed that she has received a government alert to empty the village. This usually means that SpaceX is actually preparing for a Starship high-altitude flight and landing test.

Meanwhile, Cameron County judge Trevino Jr. has ordered a temporary closure of the Boca Chica Beach and State Highway 4 in light of public safety. The closure starts from morning 7:30 am to 7:00 pm CST in the evening. This further presses that the Starship SN11 launch window is going to be in between this timeline.

Cameron County judge orders closure of Boca Chica Beach and State Highway 4 (Boca Chica, Texas). Source: Cameron County website.

The local observation team from is live-streaming the entire event since morning (video below). The excellent commentary is a gem for SpaceX, Starship, and rocket engineering enthusiasts.

SpaceX has just confirmed that the Starship SN11 high-altitude flight test is going to be attempted today (most probably this afternoon). SpaceX has the following description of the event on the official website.

As early as Friday, March 26, the SpaceX team will attempt a high-altitude flight test of Starship serial number 11 (SN11) – our fourth high-altitude flight test of a Starship prototype from Starbase in Texas. Similar to previous high-altitude flight tests of Starship, SN11 will be powered through ascent by three Raptor engines, each shutting down in sequence prior to the vehicle reaching apogee – approximately 10 km in altitude. SN11 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. SN11’s Raptor engines will then reignite as the vehicle attempts a landing flip maneuver 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, is 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.

There will be a live feed of the flight test available here that will start a few minutes prior to liftoff. Given the dynamic schedule of development testing, stay tuned to our social media channels for updates as we move toward SpaceX’s fourth high-altitude flight test of Starship!

Source: SpaceX Starship website home page.

The most important phenomena to look at in today’s SN11 flight test will be the landing, the last time, the SN10 prototype did land successfully but a RUD (rapid unscheduled disassembly) or explosion happened minutes later.

Update: SpaceX has scrubbed (called off) the high-altitude flight test, stay tuned for future events.

Related: Watch the Starship SN11 flap actuation test that looks like a dance

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By Iqtidar Ali

Iqtidar has been writing about Tesla, Elon Musk, and EVs for more than 3 years on, many of his articles have been republished on CleanTechnica and InsideEVs, maintains a healthy relationship with the Tesla community across the Social Media sphere. You can reach him on Twitter @IqtidarAlii