You are currently viewing Starship SN10 performs test flight to 10 kilometers altitude
Credit: SpaceX

Starship SN10 performs test flight to 10 kilometers altitude

On March 03, 2021 at 17:14 CST / 23:14 UTC, SpaceX performed a suborbital test flight of their Starship SN10 vehicle.

The rocket blasted off from Pad A at SpaceX’ Starship launch site near Boca Chica in South Texas, powered by three Raptor rocket engines. Once SN10 had reached its apogee at 10 km altitude, the final Raptor stopped firing (the other two were intentionally switched off at different points during ascent) and the vehicle transitioned from vertical position into horizontal position ahead of the free fall back down to Earth. This maneuver, called the belly-flop maneuver, enabled Starship to use its four aerodynamic surfaces to steer itself to the landing pad.

Starship SN10 during ascent. Credit: SpaceX.
Starship SN10 during ascent. Credit: SpaceX.
SN10 after the shut down of the final Raptor and the transition into horizontal position. Credit: SpaceX
SN10 after the shut down of the final Raptor and the transition into horizontal position. Credit: SpaceX.

Less than two kilometers from the ground, Starship SN10 reignited all three Raptors, to perform the landing-flip back into vertical position and a landing burn.

SN10 reignits its engines for landing. Credit: SpaceX.
SN10 reignits its engines for landing. Credit: SpaceX.

With one engine still firing to slow the vehicle down, SN10 touched down at the landing pad just a few minutes after its launch.

Starship SN10 just a few meters above the ground. Credit: SpaceX.
Starship SN10 just a few meters above the ground. Credit: SpaceX.
SN10 back on Earth. Credit: SpaceX.
SN10 back on Earth. Credit: SpaceX.

Unfortunately SN10 suffered a rapid unscheduled disassembly just a few minutes after touchdown, which was most likely caused by damages obtained during the hard landing.

Despite the loss of Starship SN10, this flight can still be called a success, because the rocket was able to perform all critical maneuvers required for flight. SN10 was also the first of the three full-scale Starships able to perform a successful landing. Both SN8 and SN9 had issues during the landing burn, resulting in the explosion of the two rockets.

Starship SN10, as well as SN8 and SN9 were prototype upper stages of the Starship rocket. Starship is a two-stage, rapid-reusable, super heavy-lift launch vehicle, currently developed by SpaceX. With the giant 120 m tall rocket, the company plans to start colonizing the planet Mars within the next decade.

Rendering of Starships on Mars. Credit: SpaceX
Rendering of Starships on Mars. Credit: SpaceX.

If you want, you can rewatch the launch and landing on SpaceX’ official YouTube account.


Sources

https://www.spacex.com/vehicles/starship/index.html

https://nextspaceflight.com/launches/details/5765

Leave a Reply