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Thursday, December 10, 2020

TRACKING WITH CLOSEUPS: SpaceX’s Biggest Starship Flight Is a Spectacular Success Even after Crash Landing

Here is Scott Manley's analysis of the SpaceX Starship SN8 flight test. Scott believes that the two Raptor engine shutdowns during ascent were intended, as part of a thrust reducing programme to slow and halt the ascent near the intended altitude and hover during the horizontal translation toward the landing site. Based on the most recent information I can find, the Raptor cannot be throttled below 40% of full thrust, so shutting down engines as the vehicle loses mass due to propellant consumption may be necessary. Further, maintaining engine power is the only way for the vehicle to remain stable during the ascent phase.

This analysis is reinforced by the observation that the two engines which that restarted to perform the flip maneuver and landing (which failed due to fuel starvation) were the ones shut down during ascent. If they had been shut down due to a detected failure, it's unlikely they would have restarted.

Posted at December 10, 2020 12:27