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Credit: SpaceX

Starship SN11 suffers rapid unscheduled disassembly

On Tuesday, March 30, 2021 at 08:00 CDT (local time) / 13:00 UTC, SpaceX performed a high-altitude test flight of their Starship SN11 prototype vehicle from their test site near Boca Chica in Texas.

Under the power of its three Raptor rocket engines, SN11 climbed to an altitude of about 10 kilometers, before flipping from vertical into horizontal position and descending back down to Earth. Two of the engines were intentionally switched off before the vehicle reached its targeted altitude to reduce the generated thrust. On the way back down, SN11 used its four aerodynamic surfaces to hold its position and to steer itself to the landing pad, which is located near the launch pad.

Similar to SpaceX’ other two rockets, Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy, Starship performs a landing burn to reduce its velocity ahead of the landing. In contrast to the other two launch vehicles, SN11’s engines first have to reoriantate the rocket before they are able to slow it down.

During yesterday’s test flight, some issues occurred shortly after the landing burn started, causing a rapid unscheduled disassembly (RUD) of SN11. Minutes after the flight, SpaceX’ CEO Elon Musk wrote on Twitter that one of the engines had issues during ascent and did not reach operating chamber pressure during the landing burn. The exact cause of the RUD however is still unkown and SpaceX is currently examaning the pieces of SN11.

About Starship

Starship is the upper stage of the Starship Superheavy rocket (often just referred to as Starship), a giant two-stage, super heavy-lift launch vehicle currently developed by SpaceX. With this fully-reusable launch vehicle, the company plans to colonize planet Mars in the next few decades. The vehicle is also one of the three proposed human landing systems, which could be used to land astronauts back on the Moon under NASA’s Artemis program. The announcement of the selected vehicle/s for this task is still to come.

Artist rendering of Starships on Mars. Credit: SpaceX
Artist rendering of Starships on Mars. Credit: SpaceX.

The flight on Tuesday was a test flight of a protoype upper stage of the Starship launch vehicle, to test all systems, materials and maneuvers. It was the fourth high-altitude test flight performed by a full-size Starship vehicle.

Starship SN10 during its test flight a few weeks ago. Credit: SpaceX.
Starship SN10 during its test flight a few weeks ago. Credit: SpaceX.

Click here to rewatch the launch of Starship SN11.


Source

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

https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/1376891464333017090

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