Starship SN8 Prototype from Elon Musk’s SpaceX
Elon Musk said the Starship SN8 is going to get a nosecone and make a 60,000-foot flight back.
The company is currently designing a launch vehicle for SpaceX at its Boca chica, Texas plant. Elon Musk has shared some information on potential testing of Starship. SpaceX recently completed a short test flight of 150 meters (just under 500 feet) for two forest Starships prototype, SN5 and SN6 – and SN8, officially scheduled for construction "in approximately one week" according to Musk.
The prototypes that SpaceX has flown and landed in the past few weeks to perform their so-called "short-hop" tests were complete, but with a simulated weight mounted top of the domed nosecone, hanging up to the final production Starship and safeguarding any cargo on board. The wide control flaps on either side of the nosecone which help to control its flight, are also missing from SN5 and SN6 which are often compared to grain silos. According to Musk, SN8 will have both.
This prototype version is also tested at an early date and its precursors, including a static fire and other earth checkouts, will then take a more static fire before eventually aim to reach an altitude of 60,000 feet before returning to the earth for a controlled arrival.
SpaceX is off-tune to the earliest and rosiest predictions of Musk when it comes to construction of the Starship – but the CEO is notorious for over-optimistic timeframes and has been continuously disrupted.
The construction of the Rocket is also famously challenging, so that the first attempt at high altitude could go very challenging. In particular SpaceX has a program to evolve rapidly and learn from earlier errors while constructing parallel software prototypes that integrate various lessons gleaned from different generations. And while it may not have made Musk's insane schedules, it is moving very rapidly, especially now that pressures have been checked and made up for most of the new prototypes.