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Starship prototype #15 readying for flight, possibly tomorrow

Starship #15 on launchpad
Screen capture from Labpadre launchpad live stream.

Capitalism in space: SpaceX’s 15th prototype of its Starship upper stage, is preparing to do a static fire test today, with its first test flight possibly as soon as tomorrow, though at present the FAA has not given its approval.

They have done tank tests already, and installed three upgraded Raptor engines yesterday. This spacecraft is a major upgrade from the previous prototypes, and SpaceX probably plans to eventually fly it higher and farther than the previous prototypes. Though no details about those flight plans has yet been released, the first flight will almost certainly repeat the previous flights, going up about ten miles, flipping sideways to simulate a controlled atmospheric descent, and then uprighting itself and landing vertical on the landing pad. Hopefully the upgrades will result in the first truly clean landing with this prototype.

Though the FAA under the Biden administration has seemed eager to flex its bureaucratic muscles and slow development, that NASA has chosen this vehicle as the one that will take astronauts to and from the Moon will put pressure on it to not slow things down too much.

Pioneer cover

From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.

Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.

He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.

Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit. And if you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.


  • geoffc

    Technically this is not the 15th prototype, ince the SN15 name is a misnomer. It is Serial Number 15, but 12-14 were cancelled. But that is a stupid quibble, your point is basically correct.

    Cannot wait to see it fly! Hope it is this week! Static fire on Tuesday… Fly soon after.

    Just the turn around from roll out to pressure test to static fire to flight is so much better than SLS that I am happy.

  • Matt in AZ

    Prototypes #12-14 were partially built, then scrapped, so I’m good with that word. However, #7 is the more arguable one.

  • geoffc

    Like angels dancing on the head of a pin. I am ok with how Bob said it. Just saying.

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