Only to explode after …
Last night, SpaceX launched another Starship prototype: the centerpiece that Elon Musk wants to go to the moon with. For a while, everything seemed to be going well; SN10 even managed to land on Earth in one piece. But soon after, the unmanned craft exploded again. Unfortunately…
The missile took off from the Texas launch pad in Cameron County. Like previous prototypes, the SN10 was powered by three Raptor engines which were then shut down one by one before Starship reached its highest point. Eventually, Starship managed to climb to a height of no less than 10 kilometers. The Starship prototype successfully completed a few maneuvers before reorienting itself and initiating a controlled aerodynamic descent.
As SN10 slowly returned to the Earth’s surface, the vehicle was guided by independently moving flaps front and rear. The four valves were operated by an on-board computer which controlled the attitude of the Starship in flight. This also allowed for an accurate landing at the intended location. SN10’s Raptor engines were re-ignited as the vehicle completed the final landing maneuver. And… knock! SN10 landed successfully and completely intact on Earth.
– SpaceX (@SpaceX) March 3, 2021
Unfortunately, it didn’t stop here. Because shortly after landing, SN10 exploded after all. The exact cause of this explosion is still unknown. This is the third time that a test flight of a Starship prototype has ended in a major explosion. Although important steps have been taken. SN8 in SN9 exploded before they even put their feet on the ground. Anyway, this time SN10 managed to land first before it exploded.
Still, SpaceX is not disheartened. “Congratulations to the Starship and SpaceX teams,” the US space company wrote in a statement. “Overall it was a great day. These flight tests aim to improve our understanding and develop a fully reusable transport system designed to transport both crew and cargo on long-range interplanetary flights. We also want to help humanity return to the Moon, Mars and beyond. “
Starship is SpaceX’s new centerpiece, with which the company aims to transport people to the moon and eventually to Mars. Starship promises to be the most powerful rocket in the world and ultimately must be able to take up to a hundred people on long interplanetary flights at the same time. “Starship provides an affordable means of transporting goods and people; essential for building moon bases and cities on Mars, ”SpaceX said. The rocket transport system actually consists of two parts: a spaceship (also known as the Starship) and a Super Heavy rocket thruster. Equipped with more than 30 raptor engines developed by SpaceX, the booster allows the Starship to escape Earth’s gravity and return to Earth unscathed after launch for redeployment. The Starship itself is also equipped with 6 raptor engines.
And the company is wasting no time on this. The plan is for a fully operational spacecraft to take over all airspace by 2023 with Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa on board. This may be the first commercial lunar mission with space tourists orbiting our natural satellite. If you want to participate, you might be able to! Such is Maezawa urgent search for eight other passengers.
But if SpaceX will actually be this far in two years? It sounds pretty ambitious. Especially now that SN10’s test flight again ended with a fireball and a lot of smoke. Still, SpaceX boss Elon Musk is optimistic. “I have no doubts that we will have the Starship into orbit several times before 2023 and that Starship will be safe enough to carry people by 2023,” he said earlier.
This does not change the fact that there is still a lot of work to be done. In particular, the Starship landing still needs some tinkering. In any case, SN10 managed to land safely. Perhaps the next prototype can also hold out afterwards.
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