Enlarge /. SN8 almost certainly landed in South Texas in December.
3:40 p.m. ET Monday: SpaceX began preparations for a launch on Monday, blocking the roads leading to the pad in South Texas. However, in the end they did not evacuate local residents, indicating that there would be no attempt to launch on January 25. It is possible that the winds at the launch site were too strong – gusts close to 30 miles per hour were recorded on the surface.
This now means the company will likely try again on Tuesday if the streets are supposed to be closed from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. local time (6:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. UTC). The winds are expected to be more favorable at this point.
Original post: It's finally time to find out if the Starship prototype Serial No. 9 becomes SN Fine or SN No.
After a series of static fire tests on its latest Starship prototype, SpaceX appears to be launching the full-fledged vehicle from its rocket facility in South Texas on Monday afternoon. The nominal plan is for the prototype to ascend to an altitude of 12.5 km, perform a "belly flop" maneuver to simulate the bleeding of energy during a return through the Earth's atmosphere, reorient itself and in the Land near the launch pad.
Just a little more than six weeks have passed since SpaceX conducted a similar test of the SN8 vehicle in South Texas. This flight test went extremely well until the end of his flight. However, due to a pressure drop in a fuel tank on top of the vehicle, the vehicle's Raptor engines were deprived of the fuel necessary for a soft landing.
The vehicle landed spectacularly on the pad.
See the fate of SN8.
Fortunately, the wreck was soon cleared. At the nearby factory, SpaceX had the SN9 vehicle almost ready for use. It might have driven to the launch pad earlier, but in mid-December the SN9 prototype leaned over and fell into the wall of its high bay. This required several days to check out and replace the valves. Then there were problems with the Raptor engines, which were discovered during several static fire attempts. All of this and more took a lot of work to get SN9 ready for flight.
According to sources, SpaceX is eager to take SN9 to the skies as SN10 itself is almost ready to stretch its wings. We can probably expect the vehicle to be brought down the road to the take-off location within days of the SN9 flight, regardless of the outcome. The frequent testing to find the bugs is a function of a hardware-rich program like the one SpaceX uses to develop Starship.
The six-hour start window for the test on Monday extends from 12:00 p.m. local time (18:00 UTC) to 6:00 p.m. (24:00 UTC). As with previous tests, a technical problem can cause the test campaign to abort its attempt at any time. In case they are needed, SpaceX offers backup launch facilities on Tuesday and Wednesday, although weather conditions seem more favorable for Tuesday.
It is likely that SpaceX will provide an official webcast of the launch attempt. If so, it will be embedded here.