Update for 1:45 p.m. ET: SpaceX is apparently not attempting a test flight of the Starship SN15 today and closed roads have been lifted near their Starbase facility. The above video is provided by NASA space flight.
SpaceX may soon launch its latest prototype spacecraft from the company’s Starbase test site in South Texas, but it’s unclear exactly when.
Starship SN15 (“Serial No. 15”), SpaceX’s latest vehicle, may soon perform a high-altitude test from the company’s facilities near Boca Chica Village in South Texas. Cameron County officials, which includes the test site, raised a road closure alert today (April 30) for a potential test flight.
The Federal Aviation Administration has issued flight restriction notices for pilots in the area Friday through Sunday (April 30-May 2) in case SpaceX chooses to try a flight on the weekend.
If SpaceX try a test flight, you can watch it live courtesy of a SpaceX webcast. SpaceX typically begins webcasts 5 or 10 minutes before takeoff. You can also follow Starship viewing sites like this YouTube stream from NASASpaceflight, feeds on SPadre.com, LabPadre and this everyday astronaut flow.
Related: SpaceX’s Super Heavy spaceship and rocket in pictures
On Wednesday, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced that it had cleared SpaceX plans to launch SN15, along with two other vehicles – SN16 and SN17 – in the coming weeks.
“The FAA has cleared the next three launches of the SpaceX Starship prototype,” FAA officials wrote in a statement. “The agency approved several launches because SpaceX made few modifications to the launcher and relied on the FAA-approved methodology to calculate the risk to the public.”
SN15 is the fifth SpaceX version of Starship to fly in less than five months. SpaceX conducted rocket engine tests earlier this week to set the stage for the upcoming launch.
The first spacecraft to fly, SN8, launched on December 9 and flew well, but crashed on landing. Each of the other three Starship flights (from SN9, SN10 and SN11), had similar fates. The SN10 launch managed to land but exploded a few minutes after touchdown. None of these flights targeted space, but rather an altitude of 10 kilometers.
SpaceX is developing the Starship vehicle as part of a fully reusable heavy truck launch system that will also include a huge booster called Super Heavy. SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk has said Starship will be the core of the company’s space rocket fleet for moon and Mars travel.
NASA used the Starship vehicle to land its Artemis astronauts on the moon. SpaceX also sold a private flight around the moon using Starship to Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa, who is looking for eight crew members to fly with him.
Email Tariq Malik at [email protected] or follow him @tariqjmalik. Follow us on @Spacedotcom, Facebook and Instagram.