The SN15 is SpaceX’s first Starship prototype that was not destroyed after a high-altitude flight.
Elon Musk-owned company SpaceX successfully launched and then landed its latest prototype, the SN15, on May 5. The company’s biggest rocket took its fifth test flight and flew as high as 10 kilometres, or about 33,000 feet.
Soon after the successful test flight, Musk tweeted “Starship landing nominal”. The SN15 is SpaceX’s first Starship prototype that was not destroyed after a high-altitude flight. It lifted off from SpaceX’s seaside launch pad at about 5:24 p.m. local time in Boca Chica, Texas. The prototype ship flew about 10 km before making a controlled descent. A small fire broke out at the base of the rocket after the landing. However, it was contained after a few minutes.
SN15 is similar to other prototypes tested in the past six months. These include the SN8, SN9, SN10, and SN11. All the previous prototypes launched successfully and achieved multiple objectives. However, they exploded while or after landing.
The SN8 and SN9 were destroyed due to an explosion at landing. SN10 exploded a few minutes after the landing, whereas the SN11 failed to make a successful landing moments before touchdown.
SN15’s successful test makes way for more such tests before Musk’s aim to launch cargo and people on missions to the moon and Mars. NASA has already awarded SpaceX a $3 billion contract to develop a moon-landing system for the space agency’s Artemis missions.