SpaceX just completed its highly anticipated, high-altitude flight test with a prototype version of its Starship rocket. Starship serial number 8 successfully launched, readjusted its position for slowing speed, and again adjusted position for landing. The actual landing itself was a total explosion heard from miles away, but that was expected.
SpaceX describes the test flight while teasing the next to come:
On Wednesday, December 9, Starship serial number 8 (SN8) lifted off from our Cameron County launch pad and successfully ascended, transitioned propellant, and performed its landing flip maneuver with precise flap control to reach its landing point. Low pressure in the fuel header tank during the landing burn led to high touchdown velocity resulting in a hard (and exciting!) landing. Re-watch SN8’s flight here.
Thank you to all the locals supporting our efforts in Cameron County and beyond. Congratulations to the entire Starship and SpaceX teams on today’s test! Serial number 9 (SN9) is up next – Mars, here we come!
Critical to the mission was testing SpaceX’s Raptor engines at a height almost 100 times further than previously while demonstrating a bellyflop maneuver to slow the vehicle before landing. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk explains what went wrong this time while emphasizing that the Starship team collected all the data it needed before the next test flight.
Successful ascent, switchover to header tanks & precise flap control to landing point!
Fuel header tank pressure was low during landing burn, causing touchdown velocity to be high & RUD, but we got all the data we needed! Congrats SpaceX team hell yeah!!
Catch up on Space Explored’s Starship coverage for more details:
- SpaceX Starship SN8: First 12.5-km high-altitude launch attempt livestream
- SpaceX in Texas: Starship SN8 awaits first high-altitude flight test this week [Gallery]
- What to know about Starship and SpaceX’s first 9-mile high test flight with SN8 happening this week