SpaceX, having received FAA approval on Tuesday, conducted a test launch of the next-generation Starship SN9 prototype spacecraft from the launch site in South Texas near the village of Boca Chica.
As with the crash test of the previous Starship SN8 prototype last December, the current test program included flying up to 10 km, after which the SN9 had to perform a belly roll maneuver for controlled descent using aerodynamic rudders. At the end of the flight, the device had to reorient vertically, turn on the engines and land near the launch pad.
In general, the testing was successful. The prototype reached the target height and successfully completed the planned turn. Testing flaps on Starship, which control its movement by adjusting its position using onboard engines, was also successful.
Only the last stage was a problem. An attempt to transfer Starship SN9 to a vertical position for landing failed, and it did not have time to take a completely vertical position with respect to the earth’s surface. In addition, the landing speed was clearly too high, so the prototype eventually fell to the ground and exploded.
“We had another great flight again … we just need to do a little work on this landing.“- said Chief Integration Engineer SpaceX John Insprucker (John Insprucker) during the online broadcast of the flight.
Made of stainless steel, the Starship prototypes are early versions of the rocket that CEO Elon Musk unveiled last year. The company is developing the Starship spacecraft to transport cargo and people of up to 100 people during missions to the Moon and Mars.
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