The Starship serial number 8 (SN8) took off from the SpaceX site in Cameron County on Wednesday evening. At first everything went well, with the vehicle launching successfully, reaching the apogee and flipping over to begin its descent… only to end in a fiery crash as it just missed the landing pad.
— Michael Sheetz (@thesheetztweetz) December 9, 2020
The “landing flip maneuver,” first for a vehicle of this size, was supposed to be the cherry on top of the cake for SpaceX. However, the flight aimed to test a number of other things, from the performance of the Starship’s Raptor engines to its aerodynamic re-entry capabilities and propellant transition. Those appear to have gone well enough.
“With a test such as this, success is not measured by completion of specific objectives but rather how much we can learn, which will inform and improve the probability of success in the future as SpaceX rapidly advances development of Starship,” the company said ahead of the launch.
SpaceX has produced ten serial prototypes of the Starship and conducted two low-altitude flight tests this year, along with 330 ground engine starts. While SN8 is gone, SN9 is “almost ready to move to the pad,” the company said.
The project aims to produce “a fully reusable transportation system capable of carrying both crew and cargo to Earth orbit, the Moon, Mars, and beyond.”
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