SpaceX performed its first high-altitude Starship test flight on Wednesday (December 9), with the SN8 prototype of the spacecraft that is under development to take astronauts back to the Moon and colonize Mars. Starship SN8 lifted off from a Launch Pad at the SpaceX South Texas Launch Facility in Boca Chica Beach. The 7-minute-long test flight was incredible, Starship SN8 performed a ‘belly flop’ dive in-flight as engineers tested the vehicle’s aerodynamic flaps. SN8 glided down the sky and attempted to land powered by its three Raptor engines but exploded a few seconds before landing because the –“Fuel header tank pressure was low during landing burn, causing touchdown velocity to be high & RUD [Rapid Unscheduled Disassembly],"SpaceX founder Chief Engineer Elon Musk stated via Twitter after the test flight, "But we got all the data we needed! Congrats SpaceX team hell yeah!!” (video below)
Fuel header tank pressure was low during landing burn, causing touchdown velocity to be high & RUD, but we got all the data we needed! Congrats SpaceX team hell yeah!!— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 9, 2020
SpaceX now has plans to rollout the next Starship prototype – SN9 – to the launch pad as soon as Monday, according to an official announcement published by the Cameron County website that announces Boca Chica Beach road closures. A SpaceX representative scheduled Starship SN9’s rollout to the launch site on December 14 from 12:00 noon to 9:00 p.m. Central Time. “We can work to transport the crane and SN9 to the launch area on Mon. Dec. 14. […] The wind is not that good on Monday morning and we have very strict requirements on these tall transports,” the SpaceX representative wrote to the Cameron County city official.
In the days ahead, we will see SpaceX teams prepare to rollout Starship SN9 to the launch pad which is less than 3-miles away from the assembly site where SN9 awaits inside a high bay. This morning, the Starship SN9 vehicle tipped to its side inside the high Bay and teams are currently working to get it out of the assembly building. It is unclear what caused the stainless-steel vehicle to tip to its side, but live video footage shows it tipped early morning, video below.
Seems like the stand SN9 was on COLLAPSED and the only thing that saved StarShip from falling over was the highbay, hopefully no one was hurt or injured!😰🚀— Austin Barnard🚀 (@austinbarnard45) December 11, 2020
(Video credit: @LabPadre) pic.twitter.com/qXUPUaUBEr
If Starship SN9 is not damaged, we can expect to see another high-altitude test flight in South Texas soon! SpaceX aims to make flying stainless-steel vehicles routine at Boca Chica. Multiple Starship prototypes are simultaneously under construction; each will undergo testing towards the development of the spacecraft. A high production and iteration rate is needed to speed-up Starship’s development. If SN9 suffered any damage today, SpaceX has the Starship SN10 and SN11 test vehicles actively under assembly. You can watch the company’s operations Live in the video below, courtesy of LabPadre via YouTube.
WATCH IT LIVE!
Featured Image 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.