SpaceX Starship SN8 is getting a new high-altitude “leap” of a Starship prototype rocket will take place, very soon. And this time around, the company hopes not to end the trial in a colossal explosion.
Imminent take-off for a new Starship rocket prototype of the American company SpaceX declares that an experimental lift-off will occur very soon, perhaps as early as February 2, 2021, at a time to be specified. On social media, the company has remained silent on this point, as has Elon Musk, its founder.
This new test, passed with the SN9 prototype (for Serial Number 9), comes just a few weeks after the SN8 test. On December 9, held allowed SpaceX to take off for the first time at a significant altitude its prototype, about fifteen kilometres high, before returning it to dry land, controlling its trajectory, speed, and inclination.
This “leap” was also an opportunity for the company to make its machine perform several complex manoeuvres, with success. Admittedly, the landing did not go as planned – a big explosion concluded the whole sequence – but this fireball could not mask all the achievements obtained during the remainder of the flight, such as its lateral tilt or the use separate from the motors.
According to SpaceX, the SN9 flight will be very similar to the SN8 test. The rocket “will be propelled during the ascent by three Raptor engines, each shutting off in sequence before the vehicle reaches its peak – at about 10 km altitude. The SN9 will make a transition in terms of its propulsion, […] before reorienting itself for re-entry and a controlled aerodynamic descent”.
SpaceX specifies that the Starship’s descent will be via its fins along with the cabin, to ensure its aerodynamics. These parts, two located on the upper part and two on the lower leg, are also active. “The four flaps are operated by an on-board flight computer to control the attitude of the ship in flight and allow an accurate landing in the intended location,” the group describes.
What will be particularly scrutinized this time around is SpaceX’s ability to bring Starship back safely. With the SN8 prototype, there was a pressure problem in one of the craft’s tanks, which prevented it from having sufficient thrust upon landing. As a result, the prototype hit the ground at too great a speed, which caused its final destruction.
SpaceX has promised it will provide a live broadcast of the event. We will add the video to this article as it becomes available. The flight should last about ten minutes. It will take place in Texas, where one of SpaceX’s test sites is located. Several other tests are planned for 2021. The company is hopeful to be able to complete an inaugural flight as early as November.