Paris, 6 May 2021. – The fifth attempt succeeded: SpaceX successfully completed a high-altitude flight test of a Starship prototype from its Starbase in Texas yesterday.
It was the fifth attempt of a high-altitude test of Starship and the first one that did not end up with an explosion.
Similar to previous high-altitude flight tests, Starship SN 15 was powered through ascent by three Raptor engines, each shutting down in sequence prior to the vehicle reaching apogee – approximately 10 km in altitude, SpaceX said.
SN15 performed a propellant transition to the internal header tanks, which hold landing propellant, before reorienting itself for reentry and a controlled aerodynamic descent, it said.
The Starship prototype descended under active aerodynamic control, accomplished by independent movement of two forward and two aft flaps on the vehicle, SpaceX said. All four flaps were actuated by an onboard flight computer to control Starship’s attitude during flight and enabled precise landing at the intended location.
SN15’s Raptor engines reignited as the vehicle performed the landing flip maneuver immediately before touching down for a nominal landing on the pad, SpaceX said.