CEO Elon Musk says SpaceX can take a glimpse behind high-risk aerospace activity by broadcasting Starship’s terrible high-altitude launch and landing debut “Mart and Everything” live.
As of November 1, the Starship prototype serial number 8 (SN8) began the last round of ground testing for the rocket. Passing these tests, including cryogenic protection and at least one triple raptor static fire, clarifies the route for the SN8’s first high-altitude launch attempt. Slightly downgraded to 15km from the origin of 20km, this giant steel rocket will literally try to fly more than 30% higher than modern airliners before almost freefall to Earth.
The test flight isn’t as strange as it sounds already, but it will be weird. Musk recently worked overtime to convey an unknown terrain where almost anything could happen.
Over the past week, Musk posted more than six tweets focused on managing public expectations for Starship’s first high-altitude flight. As mentioned above, the headline is that almost anything is feasible. One of them is a completely successful launch, free fall, flip and landing. In order to successfully complete the unproven landing maneuver SpaceX intends to demonstrate, the Starship SN8 must fire with the power of three Raptor engines, if in the process there is a possibility of passing through a sound barrier, course to the origin of 15 km (~50,000 ft). You have to do it.
The ship then proceeds to freefall up to 95% of its length returning to Earth, arcing gently until it is perpendicular to the ground. Control pitch, roll, and yaw using 4 large flaps like the skydiver’s hands and feet. At a height of about 250 to 500 meters (~800 to 1,600 feet) above the ground, the Starship re-ignites one, two, or all three Raptor engines, releases small cold thrusters in the nose and tail, and effectively performs a 90 degree flip . It is best to stop precisely on time in the form of a soft touchdown on a concrete pad.
In order not to damage the process, the Starship SN8 must effectively navigate the minefield of potential failure modes, including vibrations caused by multiple raptors operating in flight, premature engine shutdown, structural failure due to new stresses, electrical (i.e., flap) failure, etc. Do it. Engine and tank valve failure and much more. SpaceX, on the other hand, successfully flew two separate Starships in two separate flights that served as a strong foundation for the SN8 and its successors to expand.
If successful, it would be a big step forward for the Starship program, potentially opening the door for much higher and faster flight tests, full-fledged heat shield development, and even a two-stage orbital launch attempt with the first super heavy booster prototype. If the SN8’s critical days don’t end successfully, the Starship SN9 will be almost ready to take the reins just like the SN10. SpaceX is currently committed to providing live coverage, so we can say that the SN8’s high-altitude launch debut will be a sight.