SpaceX Starship prototype aces test flight but explodes again



SpaceX Starship prototype serial number 9 (SN9) has suffered a fate nearly identical for its successor, SN8, acing an nearly six-and-a-half-minute launch, ascent, and descent before dropping push, hitting the ground too hard, and exploding at the last instant.

Ending over a week of delays and a substantial FAA licensing problem, Starship SN9’s flight has kicked off what’s very likely to be an unprecedented year of tests for SpaceX’s next-generation Mars rocket. Since SpaceX webcast host and engineer John Insprucker noted during the firm ’s live coverage, the primary goal of SN9 was supposed to collect as much information as you can during the subsonic flight regime Starships need to be comfortable in to reliably perform unorthodox ‘skydiver’-design landings.

Rest in many bits, Starship SN9. (SpaceX)

To complete that move, Starship must perform an unprecedented ~120-degree reverse seconds before impacting the earth, pivoting out of a belly-down to tail-down landing configuration under the ability of 2 Raptor engines. Much like SN8, that suffered two last-second Raptor engine flameouts if a gas tank couldn’t maintain the correct pressure, Starship SN9’s passing came just seconds before a projected landing.

Around six minutes and twenty seconds after liftoff (T+6:20), Starship SN9 – falling belly-down towards the floor – attempted to ignite two of its three Raptors to reverse around and slow down for a soft landing. Unfortunately, while the very first Raptor ignited with no issue, the next engine wasn’t lucky and visibly failed to begin. With just half the thrust needed available to the enemy, Starship SN9 managed to correctly reverse or slow down and impacted the ground nearly belly-first at considerable speed, hammering its propellant tanks and inducing a substantial explosion.

Thankfully, Starship SN9’s neglected landing – too like SN8 – was rather accurate, seemingly sparing SpaceX’s launch centers and Starship SN10. Seemingly unharmed, Starship SN10 could begin its flight test evaluation effort (several floor tests) mere days from today. Based on what root cause SpaceX ultimately traces SN9’s neglected landing and the extent of the job to rectify any issues shared in its successor, Starship SN10 might be ready to fly before the close of the month.

The article SpaceX Starship prototype experts test flight but explodes again appeared initially on TESLARATI.

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