After a series of impressive yet explosive attempts and multiple test delays, SpaceX has finally managed to successfully land a Starship prototype without exploding for the first time.
During the fifth high-altitude test, the prototype with serial number 15, or SN15, was able to reach an altitude of 10 kilometers, performed the planned maneuver, and then landed softly.
The SN15 descended and landed vertically at the base. As soon as it arrived, a small fire occurred at the bottom of the spacecraft, but it appeared to be extinguished.
Tests of the Starship SN15 prototype were supposed to take place at the end of April, but they were postponed due to bad weather conditions. Earlier this year, SpaceX lost several Starship prototypes in previous launches, which involved prototypes SN8, SN9, SN10, and SN11.
Elon Musk said that the landing was carried out in a regular mode. Earlier, the head of the company announced that Starship SN15 is an improved prototype with improved design, avionics, software, and engine. The engines, on the other hand, allow for more speed and efficiency during production and flight.
For the altitude test, the Starship ascended with the help of three Raptor engines, each shutting down when the vehicle reached its peak, 10 kilometers above sea level. On the way back down, Starship shifts to a horizontal orientation and uses four flaps to slow its descent. As it nears the Earth and its landing location, the Raptor engines are reignited, and the Starship returns to a vertical orientation before touching down on the pad successfully.
The achievement is a major one for the company’s vision of reusable spacecraft that will launch cargo and people to the Moon, Mars, around the Earth, and beyond. However, they still have a long way to go.