Will it be the first not to explode?
The prototype, dubbed SN11, is the fourth full-scale test subject of the company's ambitious spacecraft. The three prototypes that came before it — SN8, SN9, and SN10 — were all run through their paces, with varying degrees of success. Case in point, all three test flights ended in massive fireballs.
Fourth Time's the Charm
Will SN11 stand a chance of making a safe landing — and not blowing up? For now, we'll have to wait and see. SpaceX is going through its Starship testing at a breakneck pace, with test fires of SN11 likely only days away, as NASA Spaceflight reports.
Its first flight could happen as soon as next week — but that's a tall order, even for SpaceX.
SN11 will use a different approach to make a softer landing than its predecessors.
"Next time, min(imum) two engines all the way to the ground and restart engine 3 if engine 1 or 2 have issues," SpaceX CEO Elon Musk explained in a tweet earlier this month, following SN10's soft(er than usual) landing and subsequent explosion.
SpaceX is throwing everything it has at developing the massively ambitious spacecraft. Chances are that it's only a matter of time until soft landings of Starship prototypes will become commonplace.
READ MORE: Starship SN11 arrives at Pad B as SpaceX plans for the future [NASA Spaceflight]
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