SpaceX Starship to make its biggest hop yet

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A SpaceX Starship prototype will make its highest hop yet as early as Friday, Dec. 3.

Ars Technica reports that Starship prototype Serial Number 8 will fire its three Raptor engines and take off from the SpaceX South Texas launch site, the company's rocket production facility, test site and space port in the remote village of Boca Chica.

SpaceX founder and chief engineer Elon Musk on Tuesday said the Starship prototype will attempt to fly to an altitude of 50,000 feet, or 15 kilometers, as part of the first high-altitude test flight for the spacecraft. The company has permission from the Federal Aviation Administration to conduct a Starship launch from its Texas facility on Friday, Saturday or Sunday, according to the FAA's website.

This will take it above nearly 90 percent of Earth's atmosphere. Ars Technica reports this will allow SpaceX to perform several new tests. These are tests of the Starship's body flaps, switching from propellant from the main fuel tanks to those used for landing burns, and the spaceship's ability to reorient itself for returning to the launch site.

Afterwards the Starship will make a controlled descent back to the landing pad at the Boca Chica facility.

Musk tweeted on Wednesday, November 25 that a "lot of things need to go right" and added that the Starship had "maybe [a] 1/3[a] chance" of landing intact.

RUNDOWN SHOWS:
1. Starship takes off from SpaceX South Texas launch site
2. Starship in flight
3. Starship making controlled descent
4. Starship Super Heavy booster at SpaceX South Texas launch site
5. Starship on Mars

VOICEOVER (in English):
"Starship prototype Serial Number 8 will fire its three Raptor engines and take off from the SpaceX South Texas launch site, the company's rocket production facility, test site and space port in the remote village of Boca Chica."

"SpaceX founder and chief engineer Elon Musk on Tuesday said the Starship prototype will attempt to fly to an altitude of 50,000 feet, or 15 kilometers, as part of the first high-altitude test flight for the spacecraft."

"This will take it above nearly 90 percent of Earth's atmosphere. Ars Technica reports this will allow SpaceX to perform several new tests. These are tests of the Starship's body flaps, switching from propellant from the main fuel tanks to those used for landing burns, and the spaceship's ability to reorient itself for returning to the launch site."

"Afterwards the Starship will make a controlled descent back to the landing pad at the Boca Chica facility."

"Starship will form the upper stage of SpaceX's new launch system. It will sit atop the large Super Heavy booster, which is expected to be powered by 35 Raptor engines."

"Musk hopes to see Starship land on Mars within the next two years, with the first humans landing on Mars on board Starship by 2026. Musk's original goal for the crewed landing was 2024."

SOURCES: Ars Technica, Federal Aviation Administration, Twitter @elonmusk
https://arstechnica.com/science/2020/12/its-happening-starship-may-fly-to-15km-as-early-as-friday/
https://tfr.faa.gov/save_pages/detail_0_8423.html
https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/1331388984023461888?lang=en