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SPACEX SN8 STARSHIP 12.5 KM HOP, Dec 9, 2020, Boca Chica, TX

Update, December 9:  The test took place at 5:45 pm ET.

Update, December 8, 7:00 pm ET:  The launch was attempted at 5:30 pm ET (4:30 pm local time at Boca Chica) today, but at 1 second (or 1.3 seconds as shown on the SpaceX webcast) before liftoff, automated systems aborted the launch due to an issue with the Raptor engines.  SpaceX has not announced when it will make its next attempt.

Update, December 7:  SpaceX tweeted itself today that the test of SN8 (Serial Number 8) could take place “as early as tomorrow.”  The tweet includes a link that takes you to a page with another link to a YouTube website  or a SpaceX website for a livestream of the test. Those channels say they go live at 7:00 am ET December 8, but that undoubtedly is subject to change and may or may not indicate the actual time of the test.  And apparently the target altitude is 12.5 km, not 12.0 km (originally was 15 km).

Update, December 5:  Twitter posts from people who follow Starship diligently report that the altitude for the test has been reduced to 12 km instead of 15 km, and a new TFR shows a date range of December 6-8.  As we’ve said, TFRs and road closure notices come and go, so are very imperfect signals of when a test will take place, but the only ones available since SpaceX itself does not provide that information.

Update, December 3:  Word is that this will now take place no earlier than Monday, December 7.  The TFR for Dec 4-6 no longer appears on the FAA website, but the road closures in Boca Chica are still in effect as of 7:30 pm ET today. Absent information from SpaceX, this is all guesswork.

Original Entry: SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk has been tweeting that the next major test for a Starship prototype will happen soon. During these tests, or “hops,” the vehicle lifts off from one pad at the Boca Chica, TX test facility and then returns to land at an adjacent pad.

The most recent hop was to an altitude at 150 meters with a Starship prototype powered by one Raptor engine. This next test is to 15 kilometers using three engines.

SpaceX itself rarely releases information about exactly when the tests will occur, but interested observers keep track of road closure announcements from authorities in Cameron County, where Boca Chica is located (near Brownsville), that prevent local residents from getting too close to SpaceX’s site when tests are underway, and NOTAMs (Notices to Airmen) from the FAA alerting aircraft of Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFRs).

The FAA issued a NOTAM today for the area from December 4 at 1400 UTC – December 6 at 2300 UTC (subtract 5 for Eastern Standard Time or 6 for Central Standard Time (local time in Boca Chica). Cameron County has road closure notices for the same dates (as well as others).

That is by no means definitive. NOTAMs and road closure announcements come and go, but it’s the best information available at this moment.  The test can take place at any time during the window.  SpaceX (@spacex or @ElonMusk) may or may not provide live video, but amateurs set up their own cameras and livestream what they see.  Check tweets from Chris Gebhardt at NASASpaceflight (@ChrisG_NSF), which is not a NASA website; Mary @BocaChicaGal; Jack Beyer (@thejackbeyer) or @SpacePadreIsle, for example.


December 9, 2020
8:00 am - 11:00 pm