Starship Number 10 Rolls Out to Join SN9 at Texas Launch Facility – An Historic First for SpaceX

SN9 and SN10 - Courtesy SpaceX

While space-watchers were expecting a possible Starship Number 9 (SN9)  launch on Friday, observers were surprised to instead see a rollout of SN10, which joined its brother at the SpaceX launch facility in Boca Chica, Texas.

The two gigantic Artemis Mission Starships were upright at the facility simultaneously, as SN9 launch was put on hold by FAA and the SN10 came rolling out.  — comprised of experienced and energetic faithful aerospace journalists — was on hand to broadcast the rollout live, led by Chris Bergin and his team of reporters and photographers. 

SpaceX was expected to attempt a high-altitude flight test of SN9, the second high-altitude suborbital flight test of a Starship prototype from the Texas site.

Watch Livestream here.

SN9 and SN10 stand together at Boca Chica SpaceX – Courtesy NASA

NASA Spaceflight Team Gets the Starship Scoop

The test was to be similar to the high-altitude flight test of Starship serial number 8 (SN8), whereby SN9 is powered through ascent by three Raptor engines, each shutting down in sequence prior to the vehicle reaching apogee – approximately 10 km in altitude. 

The NASA Spaceflight broadcast and media team does a great job of covering space launch activity, going the distance to convey the excitement of the new era in  space exploration.

When it does launch, SN9 will perform a propellant transition to the internal header tanks, which hold landing propellant, before reorienting itself for reentry and a controlled aerodynamic descent. Launch may take place on Monday, NSF team said.

The Starship prototype will descend under active aerodynamic control, accomplished by independent movement of two forward and two aft flaps on the vehicle. 

All four flaps are actuated by an onboard flight computer to control Starship’s attitude during flight and enable precise landing at the intended location. SN9’s Raptor engines will then reignite as the vehicle attempts a landing flip maneuver immediately before touching down on the landing pad adjacent to the launch mount.