SpaceX SN17 Has Orbital Heat Shield

SpaceX SN17 Starship has an orbital heat shield. This indicates that SpaceX is expecting to rapidly progress to higher altitude flights.

SpaceX is expecting they might be only two months away from an orbital test flight of Starship.

SOURCES – what about it? Boca Chica Gal
Written By Brian Wang,

4 thoughts on “SpaceX SN17 Has Orbital Heat Shield”

  1. Fail faster. That's why SpaceX is growing by leaps and bounds, and everyone else is doing a pub crawl.
    Just jam a whole lot of experimental stuff into every launch. The shotgun approach will tell you what works and what doesn't.
    Now that we're getting up to SN17, much of the guesswork is gone for the basic parts. It's time to experiment with the more exotic parts.

    The way they structured their development tech tree, there's nearly nothing that would knock them backwards. All the iffy stuff has either been proven or rejected up to this point.

    You could either spend 3 years in a lab testing new materials, or just launch your best guess into space as-is and find out in a few minutes.
    Ultra-fast development cycle.

  2. Perhaps they'd view that as backsliding?

    But, yes, once they start in on the orbital testing, I expect they'll start carrying payloads on the way up.

  3. Let's recall orbital launch capability is orthogonal from re-entry capability.

    They could build the full Starship Superheavy stack and launch it, even if they both can't return and land yet.

    It would "waste" the booster and Starship, but that's what launcher companies have been doing since day 0 and call it success when it gets to the planned orbit.

    Besides there is no point in wasting more Starships without some ROI, and they could use the "re-entry test failures" to launch a lot of cargo in the meantime.

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