The rocket, designated SN15, lifted off from Boca Chica, Texas, at 5:27 p.m. local time. It reached an altitude of 10 kilometers before starting its descent in a “belly flop” configuration. Then he fired his thrusters, rolled over to an upright position, extended his landing legs, and landed gently. WATCH | Testing the Starship SN15 at high altitude:
“The Starship has landed,” said John Insprucker, a SpaceX webcast commentator.
A fire at the base of the rocket burned for several minutes after touchdown, but the deployed automated water cannons appeared to extinguish the blaze.
The previous four tests of the 50-yard Starship have been successfully launched but resulted in spectacular explosions, or “quick and unplanned takedowns,” as Musk calls them.
The closest spacecraft to a successful landing was SN10, when it landed and exploded about eight minutes later due to a methane leak.
The last test, SN11, exploded before landing in thick fog.
However, changes were made to Starship, including its Raptor engines, as Musk noted shortly after the loss of SN11.
“The SN15 is arriving on the launch pad in a few days. It features hundreds of design improvements in structures, avionics / software, and engine. Hopefully one of these improvements covers this issue. Otherwise, the modernization will add a few more days ”, he tweeted.
Only half of the rocket needs to be tested. The Super Heavy, which will have the BN (Booster Number) designation before its number, still needs to be completed and tested before the two are paired up for a full test of the Starship rocket system. It is currently under construction in the large bay of the facility, although Musk has said it will not actually fly.
BN1 is a pioneer in manufacturing, so it will be scrapped. We have learned a lot, but we have already changed the design to BN2.
The goal is to get BN2 with motors on an orbital platform before the end of April. He might even be able to orbit if we’re lucky.
& mdash;@Elon Musk
The next launch will be SN16. It is estimated that SN20 will be the first orbital test.