SpaceX’s newest Starship prototype efficiently landed on Wednesday for the primary time after finishing up a high-altitude check flight in Texas. The rocket, an early check model referred to as SN10, demonstrated just a few complicated dances in mid-air earlier than safely touching down, nailing a key milestone in Elon Musk’s marketing campaign to construct a totally reusable rocket system.
After aborting an preliminary launch try earlier within the day, the prototype lifted off at 6:14pm ET and soared 6 miles above SpaceX’s Boca Chica, Texas amenities. In contrast to the final two assessments with SN8 and SN9, which launched efficiently however exploded on their touchdown makes an attempt, SN10 caught a protected touchdown on a slab of concrete not removed from its launchpad.
The launch check’s most important goal was to reveal the computer-controlled actions of the rocket’s 4 aerodynamic flaps that steer its descent earlier than touchdown, SpaceX engineer and dwell stream host John Insprucker mentioned through the broadcast. On the finish of its climb to six.2 miles, every of the the rocket’s three Raptor engines progressively shuts down to arrange for a quick free-fall again to land, reorienting itself horizontally with its “belly” dealing with the bottom.
Then comes the “belly flop” maneuver. The rocket’s three engines reignite to swoop itself right into a vertical place for touchdown.
Starship is SpaceX’s next-generation, absolutely reusable Mars rocket system designed to ferry crews of astronauts and 100 tons of cargo on future missions to Earth orbit, the moon and finally Mars. The final three prototypes SpaceX has test-launched are early variations of the highest half of the total Starship system, whose backside half is a reusable super-heavy booster powered by an array of SpaceX’s new Raptor rocket engines.