reflections of a pragmatic optimist, lover of freedom

Category: Entrepreneurship (Page 1 of 13)

SN9 Launch Today?

I’m tempering my excitement with the knowledge that further delays are possible, but signs are currently pointing to a Starship SN9 12.5km hop attempt today. A successful ascent, controlled free-fall, and vertical landing will be a huge milestone for SpaceX’s Starship program and our prospects of going places in these magnificent, ambitious vehicles.

Check LabPadre’s Nerdle Cam or the NASASpaceflight channel for the livestream. Barring a @SpaceX announcement, the time of the test flight may remain a mystery as usual. It’s been a magnificent sight to see SN9 and SN10 standing side-by-side at the launch site for the past few days. With visuals like this, it’s not hard to imagine a sci-fi future made real where we have fleets of Starships in active service.

The huge crane that’s used to put them in place is a pretty awesome sight too:

Tune in to the Nerdle Cam livestream for more!

In related news, this 4-minute video from Terran Space Academy presents the significance of SpaceX’s achievements to date and the Starship program beautifully:

(For more from this great channel, check out Starship: The Next Generation.)

Last but not least, an exciting announcement from SpaceX regarding the next phase in its crewed Dragon program:

Today, it was announced SpaceX is targeting no earlier than the fourth quarter of this year for Falcon 9’s launch of Inspiration4 – the world’s first all-commercial astronaut mission to orbit – from historic Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Jared Isaacman, founder and CEO of Shift4 Payments, is donating the three seats alongside him aboard Dragon to individuals from the general public who will be announced in the weeks ahead. Learn more on how to potentially join this historic journey to space by visiting Inspiration4.com.

The Inspiration4 crew will receive commercial astronaut training by SpaceX on the Falcon 9 launch vehicle and Dragon spacecraft, orbital mechanics, operating in microgravity, zero gravity, and other forms of stress testing. They will go through emergency preparedness training, spacesuit and spacecraft ingress and egress exercises, as well as partial and full mission simulations.

This multi-day journey, orbiting Earth every 90 minutes along a customized flight path, will be carefully monitored at every step by SpaceX mission control. Upon conclusion of the mission, Dragon will reenter Earth’s atmosphere for a soft water landing off the coast of Florida.

What an amazing time to be alive.

SN9 12.5km Test May Fly This Week

Yesterday (Monday the 25th) was out due to ~30mph winds, and today looks pretty miserably overcast so far, but there seems to be some hope and intention of Starship SN9 doing a 12.5km test-flight sometime this week. LabPadre’s “Nerdle Cam” remains a good place to check in on things. This is expected to be a retry of December’s SN8 launch, controlled free-fall, and landing attempt, with remedies for SN8’s tank under-pressure hopefully lending the possibility of a successful landing this time. I’m greatly looking forward to the attempt!

UPDATE: Looks like today’s (Tuesday) entertainment was a tank pressure test, which SN9 passed, according to Elon Musk. Also per Elon, completion of an FAA review appears to be one of the necessary conditions the SN9 flight test is now waiting on.

Wednesday launch attempt appears unlikely, given lack of scheduled road closures, and winds gusting up to 38mph. Thursday or Friday attempt, perhaps?

SN9 Test Coming Soon?

In the wake of the tremendously exciting SN8 test last month, Starship SN9 is on the pad and it’s looking like we may see a static fire test as early as today (LabPadre’s Launch Pad Cam has live coverage) and a 12.5km altitude test and landing attempt, with that launch possibly as early as Friday.

SN10 meanwhile received its nosecone and is waiting in the wings to be next up, with SN11 also under construction and not that far behind.

SpaceX’s rapid-iteration process has been truly impressive and inspiring to behold, particularly with regard to Starship prototyping and testing. Such a stark contrast to the customarily slow pace of NASA-contractor partnerships. It gives me greatly enjoyed reason to hope that we’ll see successful colonization of other worlds in the near future.

Update: Looks like we got an SN9 test-fire! I wonder if the brief duration was as planned. (This side-by-side comparison seems to indicate comparable duration to SN8 Static Fire #3, so my guess is that all went as intended.) Looking forward to further developments.

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