Starship completes 10km flight test, just barely misses the landing


Photo: SpaceX SN9 launches next to SN10

Yesterday at 3:25pm EST, SpaceX's Starship prototype "SN9" ignited its 3 Raptor engines and lifted off from Pad B in Boca Chica, Texas. The mission was to ascend to 10km in Altitude, re-orientate horizontal to slow down using its flaps, and flip itself vertical and perform a propulsive landing back at their landing zone.


Photo: SN9 lands at landing zone

After lifting off successfully, SN9 ascended into the Texas skies flawlessly, shutting down Raptors 1-by-1 to maintain the needed acceleration to reach 10km and begin descending. After reaching Apogee, SN9 transitioned to horizontal and used the 4 large flaps on the sides of the vehicle to stabilize its descent and stay horizontal to bleed off as much speed before landing. The plan for the landing was to ignite 2 Raptors for the flip back to vertical and then use 1 for the landing, but one of the Raptors failed to ignite during the flip, causing the vehicle to not slow down enough and crashed into the landing zone.


Despite exploding at the landing zone and not making a soft-landing as anticipated, this test flight completed almost every other objective it tested during flight. Ascent and Descent under the flaps looked rock solid and the only thing they need to do is land. As Starship testing continues, it's good to remember explosions can be okay as they are rapidly prototyping, the next prototype "SN10" is already at the nearby launch mount ready for its rounds of testing before the next test flight.


They didn't successfully landing a Falcon 9 overnight, and now it's routine.

Photo: First Falcon 9 landing - ORBCOMM-2 // SpaceX