SpaceX preparing for next hop test of Starship this week

Following a successful test of its SN5 Starship at the start of August, SpaceX is now preparing to perform a second hop test on another prototype, the SN6, as reported by NASASpaceFlight.

On August 5, SpaceX put its SN5 prototype through its paces with a hop test in which the rocket fired a single Raptor engine and rose 150 meters above the ground before returned back to Earth and landing vertically. This was the third attempt to perform the test and with this success, the company is ready to move on to performing a similar test on its other new prototype.

The SN6 is reportedly already assembled and ready to test, so the company swapped out the SN5 at its facility in Boca Chica, and from observations from people in the area it looks like the next hop test could be completed as soon as this week.

Starship SN6 has begun her test campaign (cryo then Static Fire) ahead of an expected 150m hop. Footage includes views around SpaceX Boca Chica/drive past tour.

Video and Pictures from Mary (@BocaChicaGal). Edited by Brady Kenniston (@TheFavoritist).

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— Chris B – NSF (@NASASpaceflight) August 16, 2020

NASASpaceFlight has also provided video from Boca Chica, showing footage from around the test areas and highlighting some of the places that will be used in tests such as cryo pressure testing in which the craft’s systems are filled with cold liquid nitrogen to simulate the temperature of space, and the static fire test in which the engines are fired at full thrust for a few seconds.

The production and testing of the Starship has been on an ambitious scale, with SpaceX CEO Elon Musk making clear his desires to produce hundreds of Starships and to eventually use one to carry humans to Mars. With such an imposing challenge, there have been plenty of difficulties along the way, from exploding prototypes to another prototype literally blowing its top during testing. But with the progress on testing the SN5 prototype, it looks like things might go somewhat smoother for the SN6.

SpaceX isn’t only working on its new heavy rocket at the moment. The company is also continuing to roll out its Starlink satellites, hundreds of satellites which will form a network and will eventually provide global internet access. Musk confirmed on Twitter that the next Starlink launch will be tomorrow, Tuesday August 18, marking the 100th launch for SpaceX and the sixth time this particular Falcon 9 rocket booster has been used.

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