The SN10 prototype of the Starship spacecraft managed to land safely. A feat.
The 3 of March, SpaceX waited several hours before launching its SN10 prototype in the skies of Boca Chica, south of Texas. But this wait was rewarded: after flying up to 10 km altitude, the enormous spaceship began its impressive descent maneuver, worthy of a science fiction film, before straightening up and landing very slowly. On the ground. It is a unique feat of engineering: never had SpaceX succeeded in going so far in the recovery of a Starship, the centerpiece of the conquest of space according to the company.
Previously, the prototypes had all exploded at launch or on landing. The previous flight had also been widely commented, because it had completed most of the stages of that of March 3, but had finished in flames because of a too fast descent impossible to slow down. As if to honor its big brothers, the SN10 also exploded 8 minutes after landing – but the incident will not be remembered. It just shows that SpaceX still has work to do on these devices, which is not news.
The Starship SN10’s mission was not necessarily to to survive to his feat, but to hit the ground in one piece. What he did admirably: we can see him on SpaceX live standing for several minutes in the desert environment of Texas.
A big step for the aerospace industry
This show of force is not just a way of showing that SpaceX is always ahead of its competitors. It is part of a much longer space exploration project. Because the Starship is not intended to land only on Earth: this maneuver that we see today is, for the company, the best way to land a ship on another planet or on the Moon. And to make it start again, the low gravity helping.
Moreover, takeoff from Earth will never take this form on real flights: Starship will be propelled by a huge rocket called Super Heavy, which should allow it to tear itself away from the Earth’s atmosphere. In Elon Musk’s still very optimistic vision, the Starship could be put into orbit by a Super Heavy launcher by the end of 2021 and the duo will officially return to space in 2023. A tight temporality, but which promises beautiful launches in the coming months: to achieve this, SpaceX will multiply the tests on the Starship.
Photos of the takeoff and landing of the Starship SN10
The continuation in video