SpaceX’s SN8 rocket, intended as a predecessor to the systems that will launch spacecraft to the moon and Mars, will get a test flight next week with the company planning to send it 60,000 feet up and then return it in a controlled landing.
CEO Elon Musk made the announcement in a Twitter post Saturday.
The revelation comes about five weeks after SpaceX conducted a test of its SN5 Starship reusable launch vehicle, flying it 150 meters sideways at its Boca Chica, Texas, facility.
A similar test of its SN6 vehicle – which similarly had one engine – also was conducted, meant to determine the integrity of the rocket’s steel walls. The SN7 rocket was intentionally destroyed in a test tank to examine the strength limits of the design.
The SN8 test also will be conducted at Boca Chica. It will have three Raptor engines needed to generate the thrust to push it to more than 11 miles high.
Musk noted that the SN8 will be fitted with flaps — to assist in steering — and a nosecone, where people or cargo will be placed.
Before its test flight, SN8 will undergo ground tests, including what is known as a static fire, where the craft is held in place while the engines are ignited.