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The major milestone in the development of the Starship – SN8’s hop test

The manufacturers of advanced rockets and spacecraft, SpaceX has recently released a video of its high altitude flight SN8 making its hop test. The test took place on 9th December,2020 in which the flight goes up to an altitude of 12.5 km conducting a belly-flop maneuver and returns to the Launchpad.

The test is done using many different cameras including external cameras, drones, cameras inside the engine compartment, on the landing pad and fuselage mounted cameras.

The test begins by showing how the engine ignites and starts working. As they are using three raptor engines it produces orange blue flames because of its liquid methane and liquid oxygen (LOX) fuel being burned. It is then followed by engine cut-off where all the three engines start quitting one at a time as SN8 reaches near its peak of 12.5 km.

The prototype is mainly designed to check the aerodynamics surfaces of SN8 turning its side to adjust the belly-flop maneuver. While making an atmospheric re-entry Starship will rely on maneuver. This is captured using drone cameras and fuselage cameras.Raptors reignite again in order to bring the tail around for landing to perform flip maneuver. For a soft landing the engines then flame up but fails to slow the SN8 enough. This is done using both drones and ground cameras.

The touch down and Rapid Unscheduled Disassembly (RUD) which causes explosion due to fuel line pressure is quickly identified by the crew after the test was complete. Thereafter, Elon Musk on the twitter said, “Fuel header tank pressure was low during landing burn, causing touchdown velocity to be high & RUD, but we got all the data we needed! Congrats SpaceX team hell yeah!!”

All the key systems and surfaces like take-off, switchover from tail to header fuel tanks, flip maneuver that allowed controlled landing were validated. They obtained all the data that prevented them from soft landing and using it for the next round of tests. Musk further added that, “SN8 DEMONSTRATED A FIRST-OF-ITS-KIND CONTROLLED AERODYNAMIC DESCENT AND A LANDING FLIP MANEUVER. TOGETHER THESE WILL ENABLE LANDING WHERE NO RUNWAYS EXIST INCLUDING THE MOON, MARS AND BEYOND”.

It looks like there are some serious and exciting thing is going to be happen in 2021 in SpaceX.