SpaceX successfully flies Starship for first time (and almost lands it too)

Posted on Thursday, Dec 10 2020 @ 14:43 CET by Thomas De Maesschalck
After some delays, SpaceX managed to perform the first high-altitude test of the Starship rocket on Wednesday, December 9. The mission ended with a bang but the primary mission objective was a big success.

Rocket tests often go wrong but Starship serial number 8 (SN8) took off from the Boca Chica launch site and reached its planned altitude without a problem. Unfortunately, SpaceX did not manage to land the rocket. According to Elon Musk, low pressure in the fuel header tank during the landing burn resulted in a too high touchdown velocity. Overall, definitely another impressive feat from SpaceX.

ARS Technica has more commentary over here.
The methane-fueled Raptor engines had never been tested like this in flight, and they appeared to perform exceptionally well during the rocket's ascent. The vehicle was also able to switch seamlessly from its main fuel tanks near the base of the vehicle to the smaller, header fuel tanks. Perhaps most impressively, the unprecedented belly flop maneuver and demonstration of Starship's aerodynamics bode extremely well for the company's plans to reuse the vehicle.
A second test is expected soon, perhaps within weeks, as SN9 is essentially ready. A lot more test flights are expected in the coming months as SpaceX has half a dozen more Starship prototypes in the works. Starship is the upper stage of the rocket that will be used for future manned spaceflight to the Moon and Mars. Musk predicts the first SpaceX cargo mission to Mars could take place as early as 2022. You can rewatch the test flight footage via YouTube:

About the Author

Thomas De Maesschalck

Thomas has been messing with computer since early childhood and firmly believes the Internet is the best thing since sliced bread. Enjoys playing with new tech, is fascinated by science, and passionate about financial markets. When not behind a computer, he can be found with running shoes on or lifting heavy weights in the weight room.

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