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Fri, Mar 05, 2021

Starship SN10 Sticks The Landing... and Then Experiences A 'RUD'

Reported Hard Landing May Have Created Explosive Results Several Minutes After Touchdown

SpaceX-watching is one of the most exciting pursuits in the aerospace world. Between their extraordinary successes, and their occasional explosive disappointments, watching their efforts is rarely disappointing. 

On Wednesday, March 3, Starship serial number (SN10) successfully completed SpaceX’s third high-altitude flight test of a Starship prototype from a SpaceX test site in Cameron County, Texas.

Similar to the high-altitude flight tests of Starship SN8 and SN9, SN10 was powered through ascent by three Raptor engines, each shutting down in sequence prior to the vehicle reaching apogee – approximately 10 km in altitude. SN10 performed a propellant transition to the internal header tanks, which hold landing propellant, before reorienting itself for reentry and a controlled aerodynamic descent.

The Starship prototype descended under active aerodynamic control, accomplished by independent movement of two forward and two aft flaps on the vehicle. All four flaps were actuated by an onboard flight computer to control Starship’s attitude during flight and enabled a precise landing at the intended location. SN10’s Raptor engines reignited as the vehicle performed the landing flip maneuver immediately before successfully touching down on the landing pad... though it did seem to have a bit of an off-vertical tilt when it all came to rest and the landing legs appear to have collapsed.

As if the flight test was not exciting enough, SN10 experienced a rapid unscheduled disassembly shortly after landing. All in all, it was almost a great day for the Starship teams – though, these test flights are all about improving the company's understanding and development of a fully reusable transportation system designed to carry both crew and cargo on long-duration interplanetary flights, and help humanity return to the Moon, and travel to Mars and beyond.

FMI: www.spacex.com
 
 


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