SpaceX fans are dying to know the launch date of the next iteration of the interplanetary serial number 9 (SN9) Starship prototype. After the previous SN8 model spectacularly erupted into a ball of flame when it failed to land last December, hopes are high SpaceX has learned a valuable lesson or two from the crash. Next up in line are the SN9 and SN10 models, which SpaceX chief Elon Musk teased might even launch at the same time.
The SpaceX CEO was presented on Twitter with a photoshopped image of two Starship prototypes standing next to each other on the launchpad of the company’s Boca Chica facility in South Texas.
The tweet asked Mr Musk whether “this is something we will get to see in the next few weeks”.
Without sharing any details of the company’s plans for SN9 or SN10, Mr Musk replied with a simple: “Yes.”
Although not confirmed, some SpaceX fans understood this as a hint of a dual Starship launch, possibly SN9 and SN10, or SN10 and SN11.
One person tweeted: “You mean an orbital rendezvous! Looking forward it.”
After SN8’s 7.8-mile (12.5km) flight on December 9, 2020, SpaceX confirmed SN9 is due another high-altitude flight attempt.
SpaceX SN9 launch date: When will SN9 launch?
SpaceX has not yet confirmed when SN9 will launch, although the test flight could come before the month is over.
A possible launch window will open this Friday, January 8, according to a note to airmen (NOTAM) filed by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
The notice prohibits all aircraft from entering a designated airspace during its duration.
The designated airspace covers an area around Brownsville, Texas, between 2pm and 11.59pm GMT on Friday.
What is the Starship rocket?
SpaceX’s Starship is being developed as a multi-planetary vehicle capable of ferrying humans and cargo to the Moon, Mars and possibly beyond.
The reusable spacecraft has been in development for close to 10 years now and has gone through multiple design changes during this time.
Starship will launch atop of the Super Heavy booster rocket, to create what SpaceX calls the “world’s most powerful launch vehicle ever developed.”
Once completed, SpaceX boasts the rocket will be able to carry up to 100 tons of cargo into Earth orbit.
Mr Musk has also envisioned a fleet of Starship rockets carrying the first human colonists to Mars.
SpaceX said: “Building cities on Mars will require affordable delivery of significant quantities of cargo and people.
“The fully reusable Starship system uses in-space propellant transfer to achieve this and carry people on long-duration, interplanetary flights.”
Starship alone will stand at a height of 160ft and will tower at nearly 400ft when paired with the Super Heavy.