The vehicle SN8, the most updated Starship prototype, was initially scheduled for launch on December 8 after successfully accomplishing the fourth static test on November 25.
The launch was called-off two seconds before the lift-off as SN8 noticed abnormalities with one or more of its three raptor engines. On December 9, the second attempt was aborted with two minutes to go. Finally, in the third attempt, the SN8 performed the intended ascent phase after positively lifting off from Cameron County launchpad. SpaceX’s goal to reach an altitude of 12.5 km was successfully achieved, including effective propellant transition, planned belly flip descent manoeuvre with precise flap management instead of straight vertical descent, which was performed by SpaceX Falcon 9 rockets. All three Raptor engines powered back on and the vehicle steered to its designated landing pad. Unfortunately, lower pressure in the fuel header tank during the landing triggered high touchdown velocity and a hard landing, which eventually led to the explosion of the vehicle. SpaceX confirmed that the mission was almost successful in completing the objectives and obtaining flight data.
SpaceX, with the intent of attaining higher altitude hop attempts, has proclaimed SN9 flight immediately after the SN8 launch. On December 11, SN9 experienced a minor delay due to a malfunction of the stand-in SpaceX high bay assembly building. The vehicle tilted, which resulted in damage to both the flaps on one side. The damage seems to be minimal, and the launch of SN9 is coming up in the next week.
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