Featured Image Source: SpaceX
SpaceX shared an amazing video of Starship SN10’s flight test that took place earlier this month, on March 3rd, at the South Texas Launch Facility. “Starship serial number 10 (SN10) completed SpaceX's third high-altitude flight test of a Starship prototype as it successfully ascended, transitioned propellant, and reoriented itself for reentry and an active aerodynamic controlled descent,” the company wrote in the video’s description (shown below). “SN10's Raptor engines reignited to perform the vehicle's landing flip maneuver immediately before successfully touching down on the landing pad.” SN10’s touchdown marked the first time SpaceX landed a Starship test vehicle, after two failed landing attempts. However, minutes after successfully landing the stainless-steel vehicle exploded. The founder and chief engineer at SpaceX Elon Musk said that SN10 exploded because the “engine was low on thrust due (probably) to partial helium ingestion from fuel header tank. Impact of 10m/s crushed legs & part of skirt. Multiple fixes in work for SN11,” Musk shared on March 9.
“Test flights such as SN10's are about improving our understanding and development of a fully reusable transportation system designed to carry both crew and cargo on long-duration interplanetary flights, and help humanity return to the Moon, and travel to Mars and beyond,” the company stated. You can watch SpaceX’s Starship SN10 recap video below.
STARSHIP SN10 RECAP
Starship SN11, the next prototype set to take flight, is at the Boca Chica Beach launch pad undergoing preflight preparations, pictured below. The vehicle could perform a high-altitude test flight before this month ends, “SN11 almost ready to fly,” Musk announced via Twitter on Tuesday. Starship SN11 already passed a cryogenic pressurization test and is set to undergo a static-firing of its Raptor engine trio sometime this week. Simultaneously, SpaceX is working on the assembly of the first Super Heavy rocket prototype in South Texas. Super Heavy is the booster that will propel Starship to space. Musk said SpaceX’s goal is to conduct an orbital flight test by July, which will require the use of a rocket booster. Together, Starship and Super Heavy will be gigantic when stacked, the launch vehicle will stand 120-meters-tall!
SN11 almost ready to fly https://t.co/fXmjJZOiKk— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 17, 2021
Super Heavy will feature 28 powerful methane-fueled Raptor engines. The massive booster will be reusable, it will return from space after it propels Starship to orbit and be caught by a launch tower which is still under construction at Boca Chica. “We’re going to try to catch the Super Heavy Booster with the launch tower arm, using the grid fins to take the load,” Musk said. Which suggests Super Heavy will feature grid fins like the company’s Falcon 9 rocket; four grid fins are located at top to control the vehicles orientation upon atmospheric descent through Earth’s atmosphere. SpaceX has never caught a booster, we will see how that works when the launch tower completes construction and SpaceX initiates Super Heavy testing.
Image Source: Tesmanian.com
That’s our goal— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 17, 2021
About the Author
Evelyn J. Arevalo joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover news as a Space Journalist and SpaceX Starbase Texas Correspondent. Evelyn is specialized in rocketry and space exploration. The main topics she covers are SpaceX and NASA.