SpaceX decided to swap out one of the three engines of the Starship SN10 prototype ahead of its high-altitude test flight.
The decision was made on Tuesday, Feb. 23, not long after SN10 fired up its engines for a "static fire" test at the company's South Texas complex.
What to expect of the Starship SN10
SpaceX carried out the static fire test so as to prep SN10 for its upcoming six-mile (10 km) test hop above the Texan sky — the date of which has yet to be confirmed officially.
Just a couple of hours ago, Musk wrote a Twitter post stating "Out on launch pad, engine swap underway." It's clear to see SpaceX is losing no time in getting the swap over and done with, with the test hop hopefully following suit soon after.
Once the SN10 does carry out its upcoming test, it will mark the third time a Starship prototype flies so high, reports Space.com. The company's SN8 and SN9 prototypes were the first to perform such hops, on Dec. 9, and Feb. 2, respectively.
Both prototypes carried out their flights in good order, before unexpectedly crashing at the landing site.
Similar to SN10's journey, SN9 had to undergo an engine swap ahead of its test flight, with two of its three Raptor engines being swapped out.
SpaceX is aiming for a Starship prototype to carry out an orbital test flight before the end of the year and hopes to have an operational launch vehicle by 2023.
The Starship launch vehicle is being developed to carry payloads and people up to the moon, Mars, and further in space. Once its up and running, it will be the world's most powerful launch vehicle to date, with the ability to carry over 100 metric tonnes to Earth orbit.