SpaceX is developing its next-generation launch vehicle in South Texas at Boca Chica Beach in Cameron County, TX. The aerospace company plans to develop a reusable two-stage vehicle consisting of a Starship and Super Heavy rocket booster that will only be used to propel the spacecraft to orbit. The spacecraft would be able to take one hundred passengers to Mars on long-duration voyages. To develop the spacecraft-rocket duo the company is actively testing prototypes. On December 9, SpaceX conducted its first high-altitude test flight with the Starship SN8 prototype. SpaceX released an impressive Starship SN8 test flight recap video on December 23, with annotations describing the primary stages of the spacecraft’s debut high-altitude flight recap (video below). The stainless-steel SN8 vehicle lifted off about 40,000 feet (12 kilometers) during the impressive launch, powered by three Raptor engines that were shut down mid-flight to execute a ‘belly flip’ maneuver. Starship SN8, directed by its aerodynamic flaps, plunged gracefully through the sky. “12 story rocket turns off its engines & does a controlled fall,” SpaceX founder Elon Musk captioned the recap video via Twitter.
Despite of Starship SN8 exploding upon landing, the flight was a success because “SN8 demonstrated a first-of-its-kind controlled aerodynamic descent and landing flip maneuver,” the company said in the video, “Together these will enable landing where no runways exist, including the Moon, Mars, and beyond.” The flight test provided engineers with valuable data that will enable them to further develop the spacecraft.
SpaceX teases the next Starship test flight that will be conducted with – SN9 at the end of the recap video. Starship SN9 was transported to the Boca Chica launch pad on Tuesday morning, where it will undergo pre-flight testing prior to carrying out a high altitude test flight. We might soon see another Starship spacecraft conduct an epic belly dive and attempt a landing if all preflight preparations go smoothly. In the meantime, Starship SN10 and SN11 are being manufactured at the rocket factory at the same time. Next year, each prototype will undergo similar testing.
Watch the Starship SN8 Flight Test Recap Video below.
You can watch SpaceX South Texas Launch Facility operations Live in the video below, courtesy of LabPadre via YouTube.
Want to buy a Tesla Model 3, Model Y, Model S, or Model X? Feel free to use my referral code to get some free Supercharging miles with your purchase: http://ts.la/guanyu3423
You can also get a $100 discount on Tesla Solar with that code.