It has finally done it, Elon Musk’s SpaceX has successfully landed the SN15 prototype of the Starship. The giant spacecraft has tried several times before, but it is only now with the SN15 prototype that it has managed to overcome a key challenge in its development: landing in one piece back on the Earth’s surface.
After performing a high-altitude test flight, the interplanetary spacecraft performed as expected its horizontal drop maneuver after shutting down engines. Just before reaching the ground, it activated the engines and positioned itself vertically for a soft landing. Previously other prototypes failed in this last step.
In minute 5:30 you can see the landing:
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) May 5, 2021
This is the first prototype of the interplanetary spacecraft that manages to land safely after surviving a high-altitude flight. Needless to say, there was a small fire near the base of the rocket after landing, but it was later extinguished. According to a SpaceX engineer, “nothing unusual with the amount of methane we’re carrying.”
This successful landing marks a milestone for SpaceX, which has finally successfully landed its largest rocket ship ever. Previously they had tried with four other prototypes, all of which ended up exploding in one way or another either before landing or moments after landing.