SpaceX could fire up both of its next-gen rockets soon – CNET


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SpaceX could fire up both of its next-gen rockets soon

A follow-up launch of the company’s historic Falcon Heavy demo and its future plans to get to the Red Planet could both get a boost.

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Musk says Starship will act more like a sky diver than an airplane.

SpaceX

This week, Elon Musk’s rocket company could light up Falcon Heavy, the biggest rocket currently in its stable, as well as its next-generation Starship, designed to eventually take passengers to Mars. 

So-called static or “hold down” test firings of both rockets could take place as soon as Sunday for a Starship prototype and Monday, April 1 for Falcon Heavy, but it’s no April Fools’ joke. 

We haven’t seen Falcon Heavy in action since its successful demonstration flight in 2018 that sent Musk’s red Tesla toward Mars, but SpaceX has been planning to use Heavy to launch payloads for paying customers for several months now. 

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Now, after some delays, a Falcon Heavy could launch communications satellite Arabsat 6A into orbit from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center as soon as April 7. This configuration of Falcon Heavy will be made up of three “Block 5″ Falcon 9 rockets, the final version of the SpaceX workhorse rocket meant to be reused up to 100 times. But first Heavy needs to undergo a successful static fire test, currently set for Monday.

Meanwhile, the single-engine “hopper” prototype of Starship has been working up to a test firing at the company’s test facility at Boca Chica, Texas. Musk has said the first test won’t see the rocket get very high off the ground, if at all, but the FAA still issued an airspace closure for the area this past Monday through Thursday. The same closure will also be in effect this Sunday and Monday.

Over the past few weeks, multiple periods of gas venting from the Starship prototype were observed on webcams pointed at the big, shiny cone. Reports from local media indicated SpaceX was testing the rocket’s fuel tanks and other systems in preparation for the main event.

The company itself has been quiet about what exactly is happening at Boca Chica. SpaceX but did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

Regardless, the odds are looking pretty good we’ll see fire beneath one big SpaceX rocket or another sometime in the coming days. 

Originally published March 29.
Updated March 31: Adds new test timeframes.  

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