Has SpaceX’s SN16 been retired? The latest Starship prototype has been ‘axed’ by Elon Musk.
SPACEX has transported the SN16 Starship prototype out of the launch facility and onto a neighboring “rocket garden,” implying that it has been retired.
After the successful launch of its predecessor, the SN15, SpaceX fans were eagerly anticipating the launch of the SN16. Since the launch of the SN15 in early May, however, there has been no news about the SN16.
Since May, the latest Starship prototype has been in the launch bay, but SpaceX now appears to have other ideas.
Both the SN15 and SN16 may be seen in the retirement garden near the Boca Chica launch site in Texas, thanks to NASA Spaceflight’s Jack Beyer.
“Starship SN15 and Starship SN16,” Mr Beyer posted on Twitter. “These are the coolest lawn ornaments I’ve ever seen.”
Elon Musk, the CEO of SpaceX, took up on the message and retweeted it to his 57 million followers without comment.
SN15 and SN16 are two starships. The coolest lawn ornaments I’ve ever seen. @NASASpaceflight @elonmusk pic.twitter.com/RIbziaMRVP
Rather, it appears that SpaceX will concentrate on the orbital flight of a Starship prototype.
In a recent application to the Federal Communications Commission, the proposed orbital journey was described in detail (FCC).
According to the document, SpaceX intends to launch the 160-foot tall Starship from Texas using a Super Heavy rocket booster.
The rocket will then separate and return after two minutes and 49 seconds, landing “approximately 20 miles from the shore” in the Gulf of Mexico, according to the document.
The Starship, on the other hand, will continue on its journey and will arrive in Florida in 90 minutes.
“The Orbital Starship will continue to travel between the Florida Straits,” the SpaceX document stated.
“It will achieve orbit until conducting a powered, targeted landing in a soft ocean landing around 100 kilometers (62 miles) off the northwest shore of Kauai.”
In order to continue its trip to Mars, SpaceX said it hopes to gain as much as possible from the test flight.
“SpaceX plans to collect as much data as possible throughout flight to quantify entrance dynamics and better understand what the vehicle experiences in a flight regime that is exceedingly difficult to anticipate or recreate computationally,” according to the statement.
“After the first flight, this data will underpin any modifications in vehicle design or CONOPs [concept of operations]and help us construct stronger models for our internal simulations.”
The launch date has not yet been set, but Mr Musk has. “Brinkwire News in Condensed Form.”