Touchdown! Starship SN15 Lands and Doesn’t Go Boom

by | May 13, 2021 | Daily Space, Spacecraft, SpaceX | 0 comments


On May 5 at 22:25 UTC, SpaceX’s Starship SN15 vehicle, under the power of Raptor engines 54, 61, and 66, took to the sky above SpaceX’s Boca Chica Texas launch site. SN15’s launch proceeded in much the same way as the flights of SN8, 9, 10, and 11. It took off, shut off engines progressively to reduce loads, and transitioned to horizontal flight at an approximately 10-kilometer apogee. It headed back down to the Texas sand, controlling its attitude with the forward and aft flaps and the reaction control thrusters.

At about one kilometer above ground level, the vehicle relit all three of its Raptor engines, immediately shut off one, and pitched from horizontal back to vertical. Finally, with good control of its attitude and vertical speed, SN15 extended and locked its landing legs and settled down right on the edge of the landing pad. Ten minutes later it was still standing, gently puffing away. Like SN10, there was a fire at the base of the vehicle after landing, but a water jet successfully put it out.

SN15 became the first Starship vehicle to have an entirely successful no-asterisk-necessary demonstration of the full Starship landing sequence. Congratulations, SpaceX Team! You’ve worked very hard and finally succeeded. Good luck with the orbital flight.

More Information

Starship SN15 conducts smooth test flight and nails landing (NASA Spaceflight)

Launch and Landing video


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