SpaceX fires off Starship SN11's Raptor engines before rocket's first high altitude flight TODAY


SpaceX is gearing up to launch its fourth Starship prototype, following a successful Raptor static fire test that send a burst of flames from the base of Serial Number 11 (SN11), signaling it is ready to soar.

The pre-check test ensures that the massive rocket’s three engines are ‘healthy’ for the voyage after one did not meet the required specifications for launch during a previous test this week – the failed engine was swapped for a new unit Wednesday.

The county judge of Boca Chica, Texas, where SpaceX’s testing facility is located, approved road closures around the beach and Highway 4 for March 26 from 8:30 ET until 8:30pm ET for the potential first high-altitude flight of SN11.

‘If members of the public would like to view the flight, please so at a safe distance and away from Boca China Beach,’ County Judge Eddie Treviño wrote in a road closure release.

SpaceX’s agenda is to send SN11 six miles into the air, hover over the earth and then turn on its side for the infamous ‘belly flop’ before re-orientating for landing.

This will be the Elon Musk-owned firm’s fourth Starship to take the journey, but those who tune into a livestream may wonder if it will suffer the same fate of its predecessors – the three previous rockets ended the mission in a ball of flames.

SpaceX is gearing up to launch its fourth Starship prototype, following a successful Raptor static fire test that send a burst of flames from the base of Serial Number 11 (SN11), signaling it is ready to soar.

SpaceX is gearing up to launch its fourth Starship prototype, following a successful Raptor static fire test that send a burst of flames from the base of Serial Number 11 (SN11), signaling it is ready to soar.

The Raptor engine test kicked off early morning Friday with a goal of ensure the new unit was up and running.

Around 1am ET on March 24, SpaceX quietly rolled in Raptor SN64 to the launch pad to replace another that had failed previous testing.

Although the firm has not announced what caused the engine to fail, it is suggest that a several-day launch delay following a successful first static fire test Monday.

However, the latest static fire test appeared to be go as plan and now SN11 is patiently waiting on the launch pad for its first trip off the ground.

The county judge of Boca Chica, Texas, where SpaceX’s testing facility is located, approved road closures around the beach and Highway 4 for March 26 from 8:30 ET until 8:30pm ET for the potential first high-altitude flight of SN11

The county judge of Boca Chica, Texas, where SpaceX’s testing facility is located, approved road closures around the beach and Highway 4 for March 26 from 8:30 ET until 8:30pm ET for the potential first high-altitude flight of SN11

The Raptor engine test kicked off early morning Friday with a goal of ensure the new unit was up and running. Around 1am ET on March 24, SpaceX quietly rolled in Raptor SN64 to the launch pad to replace another that had failed previous testing

The Starship is constructed of stainless steel, which stands 160 feet tall, and is fitted with a nose cone and flaps at the side.

Each rocket that has launch was tasked with collecting data throughout the flight to better improve the next.

However, all three that previously flew have exploded following the descent back to Earth.

The Starship is constructed of stainless steel, which stands 160 feet tall, and is fitted with a nose cone and flaps at the side

The Starship is constructed of stainless steel, which stands 160 feet tall, and is fitted with a nose cone and flaps at the side

SN8 took to the skies on December 10 – marking the first high altitude attempt of a Starship prototype.

The rocket hit all the marks including shutting down its Raptor engines, reaching an altitude of 7.8 miles and performing the belly flop.

The only thing it was unable to perfect was the landing, but Musk said previously that the rocket was unlikely to land safely.

The moment the rocket touched down, it ignited in flames and left nothing behind but its nose cone.

Then came the next prototype, SN9, which SpaceX had high hopes of landing when it attempted its high altitude test flight in February.

SN8 took to the skies on December 10 – marking the first high altitude attempt of a Starship prototype. The only thing it was unable to perfect was the landing, but Musk said previously that the rocket was unlikely to land safely – it exploded upon impact

Then came the next prototype, SN9, which SpaceX had high hopes of landing when it attempted its high altitude test flight in February - but this prototype exploded as well

Then came the next prototype, SN9, which SpaceX had high hopes of landing when it attempted its high altitude test flight in February – but this prototype exploded as well

This time the rocket was unable to maneuver into the vertical position before landing on the launch pad, hindering its ability to stick the landing

This time the rocket was unable to maneuver into the vertical position before landing on the launch pad, hindering its ability to stick the landing

This time the rocket was unable to maneuver into the vertical position before landing on the launch pad, hindering its ability to stick the landing.

It landed with a deafening crash, and exploded into bright orange flames and a dust cloud, but the fire did not spread.

However, it was SN10 that shocked the world.

The massive rocket exploded roughly 10 minutes after landing on the launch pad following its first high, with some suspecting a methane leak was to blame.

The failure occurred after SpaceX declared it a success, as SN10 flew, flipped and landed without crashing and burning like the previous prototypes SN8 and SN9 – CEO Elon Musk praised the rocket in a tweet for ‘landing in one piece.’

‘Third time’s a charm, as the saying goes,’ SpaceX principal integration engineer John Insprucker said during SpaceX’s livestream on March 3.

‘We’ve had a successful soft touchdown on the landing pad that’s capping a beautiful test flight of Starship 10.’

Some sources speculate the landing legs attached to the base did not deploy, which sent the rocket toppling over, and crushed pipes holding methane.

The force of the explosion was enough to send the body of the large rocket – which was slightly tilted to one side after landing – into the air, which caused it to flip and land on the ground on its side.

However, it was SN10 that shocked the world. The massive rocket exploded roughly 10 minutes after landing on the launch pad following its first high, with some suspecting a methane leak was to blame

However, it was SN10 that shocked the world. The massive rocket exploded roughly 10 minutes after landing on the launch pad following its first high, with some suspecting a methane leak was to blame

An object that could be a methane tank was seen lying on the Boca Chica landing area after the fire and smoke from the massive explosion had cleared.

However, SN10 was able to complete its mission of gathering data on controlling the rocket during re-entry and many called the launch a success rather than another Starship failure.

In the past year alone SpaceX has completed two low-altitude flight tests with SN5 and SN6 and over 16,000 seconds of run time during ground engine starts.

Musk recently an ambitious plan to get humans on Mars by 2023 – 10 years before NASA aims to land astronauts on the Red Planet.

And Starship rockets are key players in turning that dream into a reality.

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