Elon Musk, SpaceX, plans to launch the SN15 Mars rocket prototype quickly – CNET

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SN10 flies. SN15 offers several upgrades over its predecessors.


Successful after four Test flights of next-generation Starship prototypes from SpaceX All of them ended in dramatic explosions during the landing phase. Elon’s Musk space company jumps to SN15, a new version of its interplanetary rocket.

SpaceX has conducted high-altitude test flights on the prototypes SN8 through SN11 and has long planned to incorporate what Musk has referred to as “major upgrades” into the SN15. Now the company is skipping SN12, SN13, and SN14, which were never fully assembled, and is working towards a flight with SN15.

SN15 will roll to the launch pad in a few days. It has hundreds of design improvements in terms of structure, avionics / software, and engine.

Hopefully one of these improvements will cover this problem. If not, the upgrade will take a few days longer.

– Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 30, 2021

According to Musk, SN15 has “hundreds of structural, avionics / software and engine design improvements,” including hopefully upgrades to cover some of the issues that have so far prevented SpaceX from holding the landing without a quick unscheduled disassembly.

SN15 has been through some initial testing, and Musk initially tweeted that the goal was last week’s takeoff, but that goal kept slipping and now a possible flight on Friday has also been scrubbed. On Thursday, the FAA announced that it has approved a launch license for the SN15, SN16, and SN17, but it currently looks like we’ll have to wait until next week to see how it flies.

SN15 can be started at any time (or not at all) within the approved windows as soon as all necessary locks and authorizations are in place. We usually have no idea when to take off until less than an hour before take-off occurs (even then, false starts are common).

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So for now, cross your fingers for the SN15 to fly (and land!). We’ll post a live feed of the launch here as soon as it’s available.

We’ll update this post at least daily as things change, and for more incremental updates, turn on my Twitter feed @EricCMack.

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