Elon Musk and SpaceX aim to launch an upgraded Starship prototype soon

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SN10 flying. SN15 features several upgrades over its predecessors.

SpaceX

After four successfully testing flights of SpaceX’s next-generation Starship prototypes it all culminated in dramatic explosions during the landing, the company is moving on to SN15, a new version of its interplanetary rocket.

Elon Musk’s company has conducted high-altitude test flights of SN8 prototypes through SN11 and has long planned to integrate what Musk has called “major upgrades” to SN15. Now the company is skipping SN12, SN13 and SN14, which have never been fully assembled, and working towards a flight of SN15 as early as Friday.

Musk has said that SN15 has “hundreds of design improvements across structures, avionics / software and engines,” including, hopefully, upgrades to cover some of the problems that have prevented SpaceX from adhering to the landing so far without uninstalling unscheduled fast.

SN15 had a few initial tests over the past week, and Musk tweeted last Wednesday that the aim is to launch this week.

Following a cancellation earlier in the week, the latest Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) alert states that SpaceX is now targeting Friday for flights.

SN15 could launch at any time (or not at all) in the approved windows once all required closures and permissions are in place. We usually have no definite sense of when it will explode until less than an hour before the lift appears to happen (even then, false starts are common).

So for now, keep your fingers crossed we see SN15 flying (and landing!) This week. We will post live feed from this launch once it becomes available.

This post will be updated at least daily as things change, and for more incremental updates, tune in my Twitter feed @EricCMack.

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