SpaceX is developing its next-generation launch vehicle in South Texas at Boca Chica Beach in Cameron County, TX. The aerospace company aims to develop a reusable two-stage vehicle consisting of a Starship and Super Heavy rocket booster that will be only used to propel the spaceship to orbit. The spacecraft will be capable of transporting one hundred passengers on long duration voyages to Mars. To develop the spacecraft-rocket duo the company is actively testing prototypes. SpaceX performed its first high-altitude test flight with the Starship SN8 prototype on December 9. Today, December 23, SpaceX released an amazing Starship SN8 test flight recap video with annotations explaining the key stages of the spacecraft’s debut high-altitude flight (video below). During the amazing launch, the stainless-steel SN8 vehicle lifted off approximately 40,000 feet (12-kilometers) powered by three Raptor engines which were shutdown mid-flight to perform a ‘belly flip’ maneuver. Starship SN8 fell down the sky gracefully, guided by its aerodynamic flaps. –“12 story rocket turns off its engines & does a controlled fall,” the founder of SpaceX Elon Musk captioned the recap video via Twitter.
12 story rocket turns off its engines & does a controlled fall https://t.co/HCRgyx42rn— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 24, 2020
Despite of Starship SN8 exploding upon landing, the flight was a success because “SN8 demonstrated a first-of-its-kind controlled aerodynamic descent and landing flip maneuver,” the company said in the video, “Together these will enable landing where no runways exist, including the Moon, Mars, and beyond.” The flight test provided engineers with valuable data that will enable them to further develop the spacecraft.
At the end of the recap video, SpaceX teases the next Starship test flight that will be performed with - SN9. On Tuesday morning, Starship SN9 was transported to the launch pad at Boca Chica where it will undergo preflight testing ahead of performing a high-altitude test flight. If all preflight preparations go smoothly, we could soon see another Starship vehicle perform an incredible belly dive and attempt a landing. Meanwhile, Starship SN10 and SN11 are undergoing assembly simultaneously at the rocket factory. Each prototype will undergo similar testing next year.
Watch the Starship SN8 Flight Test Recap Video below.
You can watch SpaceX South Texas Launch Facility operations Live in the video below, courtesy of LabPadre via YouTube.
All Images Source: SpaceX
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.