Watch SpaceX’s Starship SN10 Launch, Land, and Eventually Explode
SpaceX performed a mostly successful test launch and landing of their Starship SN10 launch vehicle early Wednesday morning.
“Similar to the high-altitude flight tests of Starship SN8 and SN9, SN10 will be powered through ascent by three Raptor engines, each shutting down in sequence prior to the vehicle reaching apogee – approximately 10 km in altitude. SN10 will perform a propellant transition to the internal header tanks, which hold landing propellant, before reorienting itself for reentry and a controlled aerodynamic descent.”
The launch occurred at Boca Chica, Texas, and the flight lasted a cool 6 minutes and 24 seconds, reaching a height of about 32,000 feet.
However, eight minutes after landing (which looked like something out of a scifi movie), the Starship prototype just kind of exploded, possibly due to a methane leak.
You could see a fire just at the base of the SN10 before its final landing:
Prior to the launch on March 3, the SN10 experienced a static fire on February 23 that required an engine swap. Another occurred on February 25. Despite the craft’s ultimate explosion, however, Elon Musk had apparently always given the landing a middling probability of success:
Success on landing probability is ~60% this time
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 14, 2021
Other than the tremendous fireball at the end (well, after the end, I guess), I’d say it did okay.