SpaceX preparing for another Starship flight from Texas

Road closures indicate test could happen this week

In this screen grab from video posted by SpaceX, the company's Starship launches for a test flight, Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020, in a remote area of Texas. (SpaceX via AP) (Uncredited, SpaceX)

Following a mostly successful test flight of SpaceX’s Starship, the company plans to continue ramping up testing of its interplanetary spaceship into the new year.

Over the weekend, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk responded to a question on Twitter from about the next Starship test, saying it could happen “hopefully, early next week.”

FAA records show flight restrictions over the SpaceX site for Thursday and Friday.

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SpaceX is building and testing the Starship spaceship in Boca Chica, Texas, a small beachside town along the Gulf of Mexico just north of the Rio Grande River.

SpaceX performed its most recent Starship flight or hop test on Dec. 9 with a prototype called SN8. The shiny towering Starship ascended from the pad, slowly using its three Raptor engines. The goal was to reach around 50,000 feet, the highest yet for any Starship test flight.

The next goal was to perform an aerial maneuver flipping the spaceship in position to come back down for landing. Those first two steps went well but about seven minutes after liftoff, Starship came back down to land but exploded upon impact.

Musk and SpaceX still declared the flight a success. Musk celebrated, tweeting “Mars, here we come!!”

Ahead of the test flight, Musk said there was “probably 1/3 chance of completing all mission objectives.”

Another prototype, SN9, is next up for a test flight.

The company has not released a launch window yet but SpaceX must obtain permits from the Federal Aviation Administration to perform suborbital test flights with its spaceship and inform the U.S. Coast Guard of such flights. When SpaceX is performing certain testing in Texas, roadways must be closed around the test site.

This week a Cameron County, Texas judge approved temporary road closures around the launch site for Jan. 25- 27. The road closures for Monday into Wednesday were later cancelled but FAA flight restrictions indicate SpaceX could try later this week.

The company hasn’t announced plans to livestream the test.

Eventually, SpaceX plans to launch the reusable spaceship from Kennedy Space Center.

About the Author:

Emilee is a digital journalist for News 6 and, where she writes about space and Central Florida news. Previously, Emilee was a space writer and web editor for the Orlando Sentinel and a producer at the Naples Daily News.