SpaceX’s Starship SN10 Ready For Liftoff With FAA Probes Out of the Way

Elon Musk said liftoff could happen as soon as this week.

Starship SN10 standing at the launch pad at SpaceX’s Boca Chica launch site. @BocaChicaGal/Twitter

SpaceX’s newest Starship prototype, SN10, could take to the sky for another high-altitude test flight as soon as this week. Elon Musk’s space company is now proceeding with final pre-launch tests in Boca Chica, Texas and the Federal Aviation Administration has closed its investigations of previous Starship tests.

Boca Chica is closing local roads and beach near SpaceX’s test site on Monday in preparation for what’s believed to be a static fire test of SN10, the last step to ensure that the rocket is in good shape to lift off.

There’s a “good chance of flying this week!” Musk tweeted Sunday.

The SN10 test will be SpaceX’s third attempt at high-altitude flight and landing with a Starship prototype. The company has completed two successful test flights with SN8 in December and SN9 earlier this month. But both prototypes failed to land due to last-second engine failure and crashed into pieces.

Following the SN8 crash, the FAA launched an investigation into possible violations of SpaceX’s flight license, which caused delays in approving the SN9 test. The federal agency had also been looking into the SN9 crash to assess its damage to public safety. The FAA has settled the SN9 investigation recently and concluded that the prototype “failed within the bounds of the FAA safety analysis” and that “its unsuccessful landing and explosion did not endanger the public or property,” an agency spokesperson confirmed to CNN last week.

With these safety probes out of the way, SpaceX could expect the FAA’s SN10 launch license as soon as the rocket is ready.

SN10 is identical to SN8 and SN9. However, learning from the previous two explosions, Musk said SN10 has a better chance of landing in one piece this time. Last week, he tweeted that there’s a 60 percent chance of a successful landing.

SpaceX fans on Twitter are even more optimistic. A poll launched by the space YouTuber Marcus House on February 13 found that 64 percent of Twitter users believe that SN10 will stick the landing. Less than 20 percent think it will be another “Rapid Unplanned Disassembly,” or explosion.



SpaceX’s Starship SN10 Ready For Liftoff With FAA Probes Out of the Way