SpaceX Starship Flies!

Today the SpaceX SN8 prototype Starship launched and flew.

Here’s the SpaceX feed where you can see the engines bay and the land from the rockets perspective. Fast forward to 1:47:00 to see the launch:

Then, for more whooping and hollering along with general excitement and shouting, Everyday Astronaut (4:41:00 for launch):

Rather amazing and a way of flying I’ve never seen from a rocket before.

At about 12 km peak, the rocket transitions to falling / flying on it’s stubby little wings, to return to the landing pad.

It does this well, proving everything from launch to transition to flight and navigation all worked just as planned.

It is interesting to watch them shutdown the engines, one at a time, during the ascent profile.

A note on the SpaceX page does say they had an issue with tank pressurization, so something to fix for SN9:

On Wednesday, December 9, Starship serial number 8 (SN8) lifted off from our Cameron County launch pad and successfully ascended, transitioned propellant, and performed its landing flip maneuver with precise flap control to reach its landing point. Low pressure in the fuel header tank during the landing burn led to high touchdown velocity resulting in a hard (and exciting!) landing.

Thank you to all the locals supporting our efforts in Cameron County and beyond. Congratulations to the entire Starship and SpaceX teams on today’s test! Serial number 9 (SN9) is up next – Mars, here we come!

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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3 Responses to SpaceX Starship Flies!

  1. Steven Fraser says:

    @EM: I watched it as it was happening, on a different view. From commentary, the expectation was that it would fly fast up, and continue its upward trajectory to apogee before the bellyflop. I was not expecting them to trim the acceleration as they did… down to 1 engine at the end, so that the descent began immediately.

    I’ve never seen a rocket fly sideways like that at any significant elevation. Outstanding. Fun!

  2. p.g.sharrow says:

    We are now seeing a rocketship flown rather then a missile being shot off. Still horse and buggy technology for real Space Flight, but quite an improvement. And sticking the landing, They missed it by \./ this much! 8-)

  3. V.P. Elect Smith says:

    Yeah, I think the “low fuel header tank pressure” says they just ran out of gas…

    I suppose it is possible that the fuel ended up too cold to maintain pressure. Was in the tank but not pressurizing itself. (Or does it use a Nitrogen / inert gas pressure system? Did that have too little capacity? Unclear to me ATM).

    But hey, SN8 did the test it was designed to do. SN9 is substantially complete. While it would have been a Nice To Have for it to land just perfect, we know the prior one did it so all the software and hardware are right (modulo that not enough pressure thing…)

    So had SN8 landed fine, it would just be going to the parts pile anyway (I think…). The loss, IMHO, looks like 3 used engines and maybe some internal parts. The “tin can” parts having been improved in SN9 already (I think it was early in the Everyday Astronaut video where the do a close up of the two and see different weld patterns and placement of some parts, indicating improvements already done.)

    THE big bit is that now the entire “belly flop” procedure and control system and flight hardware have been proven. She flys! Next it’s smooth out any remaining issues discovered in the flight, fly higher and faster, and eventually put on the heat tiles and come back in from “high and hot”. After that, it’s just add a big ass booster!

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