The Space SN8 Starship prototype followed a successful high-altitude flight and landed in an explosive crash on the shores of the Texas Gulf on Wednesday.
SpaceX’s latest Prototype Starship SN8 managed to free the Texas launchpad on Tuesday after a fake start. You can watch it through the feed below.
One of the Raptor’s three engines stopped firing about two minutes later, but it wasn’t clear at the moment whether this was intentional or not. The rocket continued to ascend 12 miles (12.5 kilometers) as part of the first high-altitude test flight.
About four minutes after the flight, a second engine stopped, and the ship seemed to hover for a while until the final Raptor stopped, and the SN8 began its free fall to Earth.
If you still get off Earth this week, Starship could get much closer to Mars than ever before, but even if it does, it still has a long way to go.
“The schedule is dynamic and is likely to change, as with any development test,” he wrote earlier on SpaceX’s YouTube channel.
“This suborbital flight is designed to test a number of objectives, from the performance of the vehicle’s three Raptor engines, from the vehicle’s overall aerodynamic entry capabilities, including body wings, to controlling the vehicle’s engine transition.”
In flight, the SN8 also attempts a new “landing flip” maneuver. Basically, once you reach your maximum height, your engines turn off and then fall essentially free for a while. As you approach the runway, the Raptor’s engines swing back and try to push the rocket back to a vertical position, using the tabs and small push wheels. All of these tools will hopefully help control and stabilize the missile as it comes to a familiar landing burn, as we’ve seen dozens of times since the smaller Falcon 9.
Elon Musk and SpaceX have further developed the company’s next-generation rocket, which aims to transport thousands of Earthlings to Mars, the Moon and other destinations. In the last 18 months, a handful is short test flights or “hops” they saw some prototypes in Texas lift a bench, rise 150 feet high, and then step back for a soft landing.
Hops have been a remarkable success so far, interspersed with some drama soil testing errors next to the road. But the next flight of the Starship SN8 prototype is probably the most spectacular sight to date on the new spacecraft’s development route. This week’s test will take the SN8 almost eight miles (12.5 kilometers) to the sky on its test flight.
Musk underestimated expectations for the first major flight, saying: the rocket may not reach its target height.
“RUD (rapid, unplanned disassembly, also known as explosion, also possible directly on the launch pad. Fortunately, SN9 is almost ready, ”Musk said in his Oct. 31 tweet.