SpaceX launched a high-altitude Starship prototype rocket and efficiently landed it for the primary time on Wednesday, overcoming a key technical problem in Elon Musk’s whirlwind take a look at marketing campaign to construct a totally reusable Mars rocket. Musk has mentioned the SN15 rocket contained “tons of of design enhancements” over previous high-altitude prototypes, which have been all destroyed throughout explosive touchdown makes an attempt.
Starship SN15 lifted off at 6:24PM ET from SpaceX’s distant Boca Chica, Texas services, hovering over 6 miles within the sky to check a lot of in-flight maneuvers. Because it neared peak altitude, SN15’s three Raptor engines regularly shut down to start a horizontal free-fall again towards the bottom earlier than reigniting two of its engines to execute a fancy “touchdown flip maneuver,” the place it shifts itself vertical for a gradual landing.
The rocket deployed a set of tiny legs and landed firmly on a concrete pad not removed from its launchpad, changing into the primary Starship prototype to outlive its high-altitude flight. A small hearth appeared close to the bottom of the rocket after touchdown — “common with the methane gasoline that we’re carrying,” SpaceX engineer and livestream announcer John Insprucker mentioned — however was extinguished a couple of minutes later.
“Starship touchdown nominal!” Musk tweeted about seven minutes after SN15’s landing, declaring success.
Starship touchdown nominal!
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 5, 2021
SN15’s profitable touchdown marks a serious milestone in SpaceX’s Starship take a look at marketing campaign. All 4 high-altitude prototypes that got here earlier than it suffered an explosive destiny upon making an attempt to land — both on, shortly before, or moments after the landing.
SpaceX’s Starship system is designed as a fully-reusable rocket system made for sending people and as much as 100 tons of cargo to the Moon and Mars. The 16-story-tall high-altitude prototypes like SN15 characterize simply the highest half of Starship. The underside half might be a towering “super-heavy” booster that can assist launch Starship’s high half off Earth earlier than returning again to land.