From Boca Chica in Texas, an SN15 (Serial Number 15) prototype of SpaceX’s Starship rocket equipped with three Raptor engines made a high-altitude flight on Wednesday (Wednesday night to Thursday in mainland France) to reach an altitude of ‘about 10 km.
During the ascent phase, the Raptor engines were turned off successively, then Starship SN15 began its free fall in a horizontal position with the so-called belly flop maneuver. Before the landing attempt, two engines were re-ignited to reposition the prototype upright and slow its fall under control.
Operated by an on-board flight computer for in-flight attitude control and precise landing, the four flaps played their role and the landing legs held. Although there was a small scare with the appearance of a fire at the base of the rocket after landing, it was extinguished a few minutes later.
No explosion to deplore with a soft and nominal landing which has been confirmed for Starship SN15. ” Congratulations to the entire SpaceX team on the successful flight and landing of SN15 “, can we read on the site of SpaceX.
The fifth attempt was correct
After four attempts, this is the first time that a Starship prototype has managed to land smoothly following a high altitude flight. Between early December 2020 and late March 2021, the Starship SN8, SN9 and SN11 prototypes all exploded during the landing attempt. For Starship SN10, the hard landing was a partial success with an explosion just over 8 minutes later.
With Starship SN11, Elon Musk – the boss of SpaceX – had pointed out hundreds of design improvements over other prototypes that performed high altitude flight.
” These Starship test flights aim to enhance our understanding and the development of a fully reusable transportation system designed to transport both crew and cargo on long duration interplanetary flights, and assist the humanity to return to the moon, to travel to Mars and beyond “, comments SpaceX.
It is a version of Starship which should notably be used for a lunar lander and the return of American astronauts to the moon. What’s more, with the capability of in-orbit refueling. A choice of NASA which is contested by Blue Origin and Dynetics who were in contention with their own lunar lander solution.
The SN15 prototype represents Starship’s future habitable ship. It will be supported by a Super Heavy booster. A set that will measure 122 meters high and will be able to carry more than 100 tonnes of payload in low orbit.
Source: GNT – actualités by www.generation-nt.com.
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