SpaceX engineers are preparing to attempt another flight of the company’s pioneering Starship spacecraft, after poor weather forced them to abandon two previous launches.
Elon Musk, the company’s founder, told his 50 million Twitter followers to look out for a “possible Starship flight” on Monday before the launch was scrubbed at the last minute due to issues with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
Space scientists and enthusiasts have been following every turn of the Starship’s development closely, and the company hopes the spacecraft will one day carry humans to the Moon and Mars.
Roads have been closed around the company's testing facility in Boca Chica, Texas, pending countdown, after which the prototype, SN11, will climb to an altitude of 10km before executing a controlled descent and landing near to where it took off from.
The company is keeping up a rapid testing schedule for the spacecraft.
Previous flight attempts involving earlier prototypes have ended in dramatic fashion, with two of the most recent launches ending with massive explosions.
SpaceX’s SN10 prototype took off on March 3, completing a high-altitude flight test and executing a successful landing before exploding in a spectacular fireball on the landing pad.
Engineers are planning to conduct a static fire of one of the spacecraft’s Raptor engines on the ground, before attempting the potential flight test. They have been given a 12-hour window.
Cameron County Judge Eddie Trevino Jr said: "I have ordered the closure of Boca Chica Beach and Highway four for the purpose of protecting public health and safety during SpaceX engine testing and 10km flight on March 26.
“If members of the public would like to view the flight, please do so from a safe distance."
SN11 is the eleventh prototype Starship, and the company has been modifying its design with each new iteration.
Space enthusiasts are following every turn of the project’s development cycle closely, and SpaceX has already lined up customers for the vehicle and the Super Heavy booster rocket it will eventually ride into orbit.
SpaceX founder Elon Musk unveiled the first full-sized prototype of the booster rocket earlier this month.
Billionaire Japanese entrepreneur Yusaka Maezawa has signed up for a voyage around the moon on board the Starship, along with eight other people, due to take place in 2023.