Elon Musk’s Starship SN8 prototype reminds people of what Buck Rogers might be driving, and it quietly and silently fell from the Texas sky for nearly two minutes on Wednesday. Then its Raptor engine blasted vigorously, aiming the rocket in a vertical direction in preparation for landing, but this was too little or too late-or both.
A few seconds later, there was a spectacular explosion. SpaceX’s latest next-generation rocket prototype successfully flew high for the first time and made a hard landing. This will definitely become an instant member of GIF and Fame.
Successful ascent, switchover to header tanks & precise flap control to landing point! https://t.co/IIraiESg5M
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 9, 2020
Elon Musk, the founder of SpaceX, has long warned that such “rapid and unplanned disassembly” is possible.
“Successfully ascend, switch to the header box and precisely control the flaps to the landing point!” he wrote on Twitter. “The fuel tank pressure was very low during the landing burn, resulting in high landing speed and RUD, but we got all the data we needed. Congratulations to the SpaceX team! Yes!”
SpaceX’s latest iteration of “Starship” finally rose from the launch pad at around 2:45 pm. Wednesday (PT). Due to a problem with the Raptor engine, the attempt earlier Tuesday was aborted, with only one second left.
During the flight on Wednesday, for a few minutes, one of the three Raptor engines stopped firing. According to Musk, every shutdown is intentional, “the engine performs well.” As part of the first high-altitude test flight, the rocket continued to climb to the planned eight-mile apex (12.5 kilometers).
About four minutes after the flight, the second engine shut down and the spacecraft seemed to hover for a while until the last raptor shut down and SN8 began to free-fall back to Earth.
As it approaches the ground, the Raptors and thrusters located around the rocket are used to perform a flip maneuver and orient it vertically in preparation for landing burns, just as we have become accustomed to using the company’s smaller Falcon 9 rocket.
The burns did not seem to slow the SN8 fast enough or fast enough because it entered a rough and explosive landing. This test flight brings the “Starship” closer to a trip to Mars than ever before, but it clearly has a long way to go.
Musk and SpaceX have been improving the company’s next-generation rocket, which will eventually transport thousands of Earthlings to Mars, the Moon, and other destinations.
In the past 18 months, after several short test flights or “jumps”, some prototypes rose from a pad in Boca Chica, Texas, to a height of about 500 feet (150 meters), and then back again for a soft landing.