72ºF

Starship SN8 expected to make 50,000-foot flight in Boca Chica

BOCA CHICA, Texas – The remote village of Boca Chica is a place nature has called home. However, the wilderness is sharing its home with a spacecraft and rocket building facility, SpaceX’s Starship facility.

Starship is the spacecraft and two-stage rocket system that Elon Musk hopes will eventually take humans to Mars. One Starship prototype, Serial Number 8 (SN8) is expected to make a nearly 50,000-foot flight this week--what would be the furthest flight of all Starship prototypes.

“I can’t wait to go and see this,” Ray Wysocki, a SpaceX Starship fan who drove his Tesla from Philadelphia.

The Starship is the spacecraft that Elon Musk hopes will eventually take 100 people to Mars. Boca Chica has a rapidly developing private spaceport where the Starship spacecraft will launch. The two-stage vehicle system, also collectively known as Starship, includes the Starship spacecraft which would eventually launch atop a SpaceX Super Heavy Rocket, which has yet to be developed.

For now, SpaceX is working on the Starship spacecraft and is currently rapidly making and testing different iterations of the spacecraft. The Starship Serial Number (SN5) prototype accomplished a long-awaited 500-foot “hop” in August. The SN6 replicated that hop the next month. Now, all eyes are on the SN8, which is currently mounted on the launchpad at the Boca Chica facility.

The SN8, made of 304L steel, is the first Starship prototype that would fly fully outfitted with a nosecone and flaps. It would also be the first prototype to launch by igniting all three Raptor engines.

Elon Musk tweeted Monday that SpaceX will do one static fire test before attempting the launch. The earliest the launch would happen is Wednesday, according to Musk.

“It’s getting people off the planet, making humans multi-planetary -- having a future for humanity,” Wysocki said.