Following several tests which ended in flames, SpaceX once again sent its Starship skyward before attempting to land it back on Earth in one piece on Wednesday.
Starship SN15 launched from SpaceX’s Boca Chica facility in Texas and climbed 10km into the sky before it started its horizontal descent. Once the descent was partially complete the rocket would perform a landing flip manoeuvre in preparation for landing.
With the last four Starship tests ending badly for the rocket, the SN15 features a number of upgrades.
“SN15 has vehicle improvements across structures, avionics and software, and the engines that will allow more speed and efficiency throughout production and flight: specifically, a new enhanced avionics suite, updated propellant architecture in the aft skirt, and a new Raptor engine design and configuration,” explained SpaceX.
SpaceX managed to bring SN15 down back to Earth safely after its six minute long flight and it stuck the landing. Shortly after landing a small fire broke out at the base of the spacecraft.
“We have a small fire at the base of the vehicle,” said principal integration engineer at SpaceX, John Insprucker. “Not unusual for the methane fuel we’re carrying as we continue to work on the test vehicle design.”
The fire was extinguished by water cannons on the landing pad.
As SpaceX prepares to ferry astronauts to the Moon this successful test will like invigorate the team as it prepares for the next milestones. For one SpaceX will need to show that it can refuel the Starship vessel in orbit and that it has thrusters capable of landing Startship on the Moon.
NASA hopes to take humans back to the Moon by 2024 so there’s some time yet to go.
Until then we’re going to enjoy the site of seeing rockets heading into the atmosphere and dream of the day when Insprucker announces Starship has landed on the Moon.
[Via – The Verge]