Update for 7 p.m. ET: SpaceX's launched and landed its Starship SN10 prototype from the company's test site near Boca Chica Village in South Texas, but the rocket exploded shortly after touchdown. Read our wrap story here.
SpaceX is preparing to launch its latest Starship prototype on a high-altitude test flight, possibly as early as today (March 3).
The Starship SN10 prototype could fly from SpaceX's South Texas test facility near Boca Chica Village in Cameron Country during a nine-hour window that opened at 10 a.m. EST (1500 GMT or 9 a.m. local time). Backup launch days are available on Thursday and Friday, according to Cameron County officials.
If SpaceX attempts a Starship SN10 launch today, a webcast will be available a few minutes before flight. You can watch that webcast on this page or the Space.com homepage, as well as directly from SpaceX here and on YouTube. SpaceX will announce the webcast via Twitter here.
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SN10 is SpaceX's third Starship prototype to fly and will aim for a maximum altitude of just over 6 miles (10 kilometers). The test follows two earlier high-altitude flights of Starships SN8 and SN9 on Dec. 9 and Feb. 2, respectively. Both of the earlier test rockets performed well until landing, when they crashed into their landing zones and exploded.
SpaceX is hoping for a different outcome with the Starship SN10 vehicle.
"Similar to the high-altitude flight tests of Starship SN8 and SN9, SN10 will be powered through ascent by three Raptor engines, each shutting down in sequence prior to the vehicle reaching apogee — approximately 10 km in altitude," SpaceX wrote in flight description.
After reaching its target altitude, SN10 is expected to perform a "belly flop" maneuver in mid-air and glide down to its landing site to attempt another wild flip for a vertical landing.
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"SN10'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," SpaceX wrote in the flight description.
SpaceX is developing its a 165-foot-tall (50 meters) Starship vehicle and a massive booster, called Super Heavy, as a fully reusable launch system for deep-space exploration. The vehicle will be the company's go-to spaceship for trips to Mars and elsewhere, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has said.
Starship is one of three designs picked by NASA as a contender to land astronauts on the moon as part of the agency's Artemis program. SpaceX has also signed up its first Starship passenger — Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa — who has bought a trip around the moon for himself and eight other people.
On Tuesday, Maezawa launched a call for entries for people hoping for a chance to join him on the Starship flight. His mission, called dearMoon, is currently targeted to launch in 2023. You can learn how to enter for a chance to win a seat on the dearMoon mission on its website here.
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