SpaceX has conducted several test flights of its Starship prototype, and so far, they’ve all flown only a portion of the rocket. Previous test flights have lacked the nosecone where one day payloads and perhaps astronauts will sit. SpaceX is gearing up for another test flight, and this time it’s attaching the nosecone on top of the rocket.
The coming test flight will see the vehicle fly higher than any past flight tests have gone. Once the rocket is complete, it will make an uncrewed test flight to an altitude of nine miles. The rocket is currently being assembled at the South Texas site the company uses for testing.
The nosecone being attached to the spaceship in the image above, is known as Starship SN8, which stands for Serial Number 8. SN8 earlier this week tested its trio of Raptor engines in a static fire test with no issue. Before the spacecraft lifts off, it will conduct another static fire test.
For those unfamiliar with the Starship vehicle, it’s the spacecraft that SpaceX plans to use to get people and payloads to distant locations, including the moon and Mars. It will also be used for other tasks, including launching satellites and taking care of other spaceflight needs.
Starship is huge, standing 165 feet tall, and will launch atop the Super Heavy rocket that has yet to fly. SpaceX is big on reusing spacecraft, and Elon Musk has noted that both the Starship vehicle and Super Heavy will be reusable. Super Heavy will land vertically as Falcon 9 boosters do. Once to the moon or Mars, Starship has enough power of its own to get off those worlds. Super Heavy is needed to get Starship off of Earth.