SpaceX Starship prototype successfully launched ... then crashed into a huge fireball
Jan 27 2021
In a blog post before the flight, SpaceX said it was hoping to test a number of systems, including the vehicle's three Raptor engines, which burn methane and liquid oxygen, as well as how it behaves in the upper atmosphere. The SN8 prototype that flew yesterday had three Raptor engines for the first time, allowing it to get much higher.
The different complex processes in flying the SN8 were all a success, including the header tanks switch and flap control of the Starship.
The prototype ship, which is expected eventually to carry people and cargo to Mars, was engulfed in flames as the vessel made a speedy landing. Then, the spacecraft tilted back up to a vertical orientation, shooting off its rockets to slow down, but instead the landing was too quick & harsh, leading to the final big bang - about six minutes and forty seconds after lifting off. However, six minutes and forty seconds into the flight, it disintegrated upon hitting the surface. SpaceX broadcast the sunset demo live on its website; repeated delays over the past week and a last-second engine abort Tuesday heightened the excitement among space fans. Thus, with Starship SN8 suffering low pressure from the header tank, there was no way for the engines to get enough fuel. However, this success doesn't change the fact that many eyebrows were raised upon hearing of Musk's incredibly optimistic plans to send human beings to Mars as soon as he could.
"Anybody who knows how hard this stuff is is impressed by today's Starship test".
The futuristic Starship SN8 launched from SpaceX's facility in Boca Chica, Texas into a clear blue sky, soaring eight miles in the air over the Gulf of Mexico.
SpaceX's Starship spacecraft and Super Heavy rocket (collectively referred to as Starship) represent a fully reusable transportation system created to carry both crew and cargo to Earth orbit, the Moon, Mars and beyond. It will launch atop a mega booster still in development known as the Super Heavy.
Starship is just a part of the vessel which is planned to take people on trips to Mars with the entire rocket set to stand at 394 feet tall.
In a last-minute surprise, SpaceX appears to have secured NASA support for Starship SN8's first flight in the form of a space agency reconnaissance jet often used to capture aerial photos and videos of spaceflight events.
During an interview with The Washington Post in 2016, when Musk was calling Starship the "Mars Colonial Transporter", he said his goal was "having an architecture that would enable the creation of a self-sustaining city on Mars with the objective of being a multi-planet species and a true space-faring civilization and one day being out there among the stars". Starship will be the world's most powerful launch vehicle ever developed, with the ability to carry in excess of 100 metric tonnes to Earth orbit. But Musk is the first to admit his timelines can be overly optimistic.