SpaceX launches Starship SN10 rocket after high-altitude flight test

The company’s development facility launches the Starship prototype SN9 in Boca Chika, Texas.


Marking a major step forward for Elon Musk’s company in rocket development, SpaceX successfully landed a Starship prototype on Wednesday for the first time after high-itude altitude flight testing.

But minutes after landing gently on the concrete pad, the prototype rocket exploded. The cause of the explosion, or whether it was intentional, was not immediately clear.

In the company’s test the starship rocket flew serial number 10 or SN10. SpaceX aims to launch prototypes up to 10 kilometers or about 32,800 feet itude.

The Starship prototype stands at approximately 150 feet tall or the size of a 15-story building, and is powered by three Raptor rocket engines. The rocket is made of stainless steel, representing early versions of the rocket that was unveiled in 2019.

Musk’s company is developing a starship with the goal of launching cargo and people on missions to the moon and Mars.

S.N. The 10 flights were similar to those operated in SpaceX in December and February, when it was tested by prototypes S.N., respectively. Was 8 and SN9. The previous two rockets served several development purposes – including testing aerodynamics, gradually shutting down the engine and turning in the direction of the landing – but both prototypes, unable to slow down enough to explode on impact when they tried to land.

Like the SN8 and SN9, the goal of the SN10 flight was not to reach maximum altitude, but to test some key parts of the starship system. SpaceX fired all three engines for the liftoff and then shut them down one at a time in order to get closer to the top of the rocket flight altitude.

The SN10 then transferred the propellant from the main tank to the header tank before flipping itself for a “belly flop” rantry maneuver – giving it a controlled descent into the air with the rocket’s four flutes. Then, in the final moments of the landing, SpaceX flipped the rocket and turned it in the same direction, firing the Raptor engines to slow itself down for the landing.

Starship is one of two “Manhattan projects” that SpaceX is developing together, and the other is its Starlink Satellite Internet program. Kasturi had earlier estimated that the full development of the starship would cost about 5 5 billion, although SpaceX did not disclose how much it has spent on the program to date.

Last month, the company raised $ 5050 million in its latest capital fund, valued at $ 74 billion.

Musk is “extremely confident” that Starship will be “safe enough for human transport by 2023” – an ambitious goal after the company eagerly began developing and testing the rocket in early 2019.

But Musk’s timeline is key, as Japanese billionaire Yusuku Mezawa has paid for a starship flight around the moon by 2023. Maizawa announced on Tuesday that it is inviting eight members of the public to join their Primoon mission, which will be a six-day trip. Moon and back.

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