SpaceX has successfully landed a Starship prototype for the first time.

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After the successful completion of the test flight of the Starship SN15 prototype, many wondered what would happen next. The Starship SN16 prototype is already at the final stage of assembly in a high hangar, but the resource of the 15-shki is apparently not exhausted yet. Intrigue was added by a tweet by Elon Musk, in which he wrote — “

That is, it cannot be ruled out that after a detailed inspection and troubleshooting of the SN15, it can be sent on a second flight, but already to a high altitude, at least 20 kilometers. But this will only be possible if its tanks, flaps and Raptors engines are in impeccable condition. At the same time, more ambitious options are being considered.

After the triumphant, but a little «sparkling» landing of Starship SN15 at the Starbase landing site in Boca Chica, after 4 hours SpaceX engineering teams approached the prototype ship. Later, a giant crane was pulled up to it, which is to move SN15 from the landing site, either back to the launch position, or to the hangar, where work will be carried out to study the effects of flight and landing on the ship.

The structural integrity of the prototype hull, its engines, and all pipeline fuel systems will naturally be tested. It will also be important to study how well the «tiny» landing supports have coped with their work.

And another important element is the thermal protection tiles. As you may have already noticed, at this stage the thermal protection tiles are attached to several segments of the ship’s hull. They are of different sizes, and most likely different options for attaching to the body. As a result of the successful SN15 test, some of the tiles fell off, which means that there is something to improve, since such important moments have been revealed. We all remember the tragedy of the space shuttle Columbia, when precisely because of the absence of a tile on the edge of the wing, broken off by a piece of the central tank, the ship crashed upon entering the atmosphere. So a completely secure fixing of the tiles is essential for the prototype’s future orbital flight, which could take place this summer.

Another point that was first practiced on the SN15 was signal transmission and broadcast from the prototype via the #starlink network. As you can see, this time the broadcast was somewhat glitchy. So this moment has to be strengthened as well.

Upcoming launches and updates may bring many surprises and surprises. Although we, following the development of SpaceX’s space programs, are already used to this. Elon Musk, and the SpaceX engineering team, are implementing the craziest ideas that no one has dared to do before, considering it a projection and fantasy. It is likely that the first orbital flight has already been staked out for Starship SN20. That is, in addition to the already tested three «atmospheric» #raptor engines used for braking and landing, three Raptor engines will be installed in the engine compartment for operation in space. It will also be completely covered on one side with heat-resistant tiles.

At the same time, work is underway to assemble prototypes of the #super heavy rocket launchers, BN2 and BN3 boosters. And here, no less important question remains how the Super Heavy boosters will land, whether they will be «caught» or whether they will stand on their supports. The question is still open and not very clear. At the beginning of the year, the question of creating a system for «catching» the booster at the final stage of landing was raised. But this requires a huge tower, with very strong and well-cushioned «catchers». And, of course, a jeweler’s accuracy of approaching the landing trajectory of the booster itself is required, although this topic has already been worked out well by #spacex specialists on Falcon 9. This is a very non-trivial task. And whoever solves it will be a genius worthy of the Nobel Prize.

So, there is a lot of fun ahead of us. Competitors will react who, how they can, and what they are capable of. Some will file lawsuits to slow down the development of the #starship program, others will hire an army of trolls to somehow «dampen» the success of Elon Musk’s company, at least in the information field. But it is certain that this will not leave anyone indifferent.

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