SpaceX Starship SN10 passes cryogenic proof test, awaits green light to launch by 12 February

SN10 is being built as part of a series of four prototypes designed to test a new method of rocket recovery.

SpaceX completed the Starship SN10’s first cryogenic proof test, and lifted its road closure at 4.30 pm CST (4 am IST), signifying the end of the pre-flight tests on Monday. After a successful cryo proof test, SpaceX requested for a possible static fire testing window of 10-12 February (Wednesday to Friday). There is another available window on Tuesday, 9 February. If the Starship SN10 completes a flawless wet dress rehearsal (WDR) and static fire on Tuesday or Wednesday, the company can still launch the rocket by Friday.

The FAA, unfortunately, has considered reissuing SpaceX’s airspace restrictions with a note that SN10’s launch is still pending for authorization, which adds to bureaucratic uncertainty, on top of the technical hurdles for the flight to get clearance. The Starship SN10 is identical to the late Starships SN8 and SN9 that recently suffered a last-second failure, which led to hard impacts and explosions on 9 December and 2 February, respectively.

The Starship SN10 is powered by a cluster of three Raptor engines that produce up to 600 metric tons of thrust. The SN10 has been built as part of a series of four prototypes, which is designed to prove a new method of rocket recovery. SN10 is a prototype steel rocket with a reusable upper stage measuring 50 m (165 ft) tall, 9 m (30 ft) wide, and some 1,350 metric tons – as much as Falcon Heavy – when fully fuelled.

Starship SN10 is yet to complete cryogenic proof testing, which refers to a common practice that SpaceX uses to verify the vehicle health with liquid nitrogen, simulating the extreme cold of liquid methane and oxygen propellant without the risk of an explosion or violent fire.

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