At the SpaceX Boca Chica launch site in Texas, another test of the Starship reusable spacecraft prototype took place. The test product Starship SN15, after a regular take-off and flight to a 10-kilometer altitude, for the first time, almost perfectly, after a flip maneuver, came in to land, and very slowly and gently landed on the landing pad. The only thing that caused some excitement was a fire in the area of the engine compartment after landing. But the fire hydrants did their job — they extinguished the flame and cooled the Starship’s engine compartment.
A good omen, probably, were the seagulls, which «sanctified» the upcoming flight almost right before the start. But let’s not go into omens, everything is extremely material here. Elon Musk previously said that Starship SN15 received hundreds of improvements, compared to previous prototypes, which, with their fiery finals, showed problem areas, which, as we can see from the results of the SN15 test flight, were eliminated.
The first thing that caught my eye, looking at the picture from the camera located inside the engine skirt, is the absence of any fire inside the engine compartment during the start. So, here the work on the errors went perfectly.
The second thing I noticed is the landing supports. This time, maybe it was also a visual deception, but it seemed that they were somewhat more powerful.
Returning to the engines, we can also say that many problem points were eliminated, since after the regular shutdown of all engines and the transition of the prototype to the descent mode, again, no fires were noticed inside the engine compartment, not in the area of the engines themselves, not in the area of equipment around them. Everything was clean and calm.
This time, during landing, only two engines were turned on, and they perfectly worked out the braking and leveling of the ship at the landing point. After the smoke from the engines on landing cleared, the Starship SN15 prototype stood on the site unharmed. There was no repeated rebound, as it was in the case before last, which led to deformations of the ship’s structures, and the subsequent explosion. This time everything was perfectly soft.
As I said at the beginning, after landing, a fire broke out, which was extinguished by fire hydrants located around the perimeter of the landing site. It is likely that the flames during landing nevertheless set fire to some of the thermal protection elements located inside the motor skirt.
But this no longer had any decisive character, since the structure of the ship was intact, and probably there were no fuel leaks, but there was a planned release of pressure from the tanks through special valves.
A few minutes after landing, when it became finally clear that everything worked out, Elon wrote on his Twitter account that the landing took place normally.
Congratulations to SpaceX on another successful step that brings humanity closer to becoming a multi-planetary species. The earth is the cradle of mankind, but you cannot live in the cradle all your life. Remember this testament of Tsiolkovsky!
Today’s test also strengthens SpaceX’s position in its competition to become one of the main players in the US lunar program, which will not be hampered by lawsuits from the Jeff Bezos space company.
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