FLIGHT TEST

Starship SN15

Rewatch

On Wednesday, May 5, Starship serial number 15 (SN15) successfully completed SpaceX’s fifth high-altitude flight test of a Starship prototype from Starbase in Texas.

Similar to previous high-altitude flight tests of Starship, SN15 was powered through ascent by three Raptor engines, each shutting down in sequence prior to the vehicle reaching apogee – approximately 10 km in altitude. SN15 performed a propellant transition to the internal header tanks, which hold landing propellant, before reorienting itself for reentry and a controlled aerodynamic descent.

The Starship prototype descended under active aerodynamic control, accomplished by independent movement of two forward and two aft flaps on the vehicle. All four flaps were actuated by an onboard flight computer to control Starship’s attitude during flight and enabled precise landing at the intended location. SN15’s Raptor engines reignited as the vehicle performed the landing flip maneuver immediately before touching down for a nominal landing on the pad.

These test flights of Starship are all about improving our understanding and development of a fully reusable transportation system designed to carry both crew and cargo on long-duration interplanetary flights, and help humanity return to the Moon, and travel to Mars and beyond.

Congratulations to the entire SpaceX team on SN15’s successful flight and landing!

SpaceX’s Starship spacecraft and Super Heavy rocket (collectively referred to as Starship) represent a fully reusable transportation system designed to carry both crew and cargo to Earth orbit, the Moon, Mars and beyond. Starship will be the world’s most powerful launch vehicle ever developed, with the ability to carry in excess of 100 metric tonnes to Earth orbit.

Overview

HEIGHT 120 m / 394 ft
DIAMETER 9 m / 30 ft
PAYLOAD TO LEO 100+ t / 220+ klb

STARSHIP

Starship is the fully reusable spacecraft and second stage of the Starship system. It offers an integrated payload section and is capable of carrying passengers and cargo to Earth orbit, planetary destinations, and between destinations on Earth.

HEIGHT 50 m / 160 ft
DIAMETER 9 m / 30 ft
PROPELLANT CAPACITY 1200 t / 2.6 Mlb
PAYLOAD CAPACITY 100+ t / 220+ klb

SUPER HEAVY

The first stage, or booster, of our next-generation launch system has a gross liftoff mass of over 3 million kg and uses sub-cooled liquid methane and liquid oxygen (CH4/LOX) propellants. The booster will return to land at the launch site on its 6 legs.

HEIGHT 70 m / 230 ft
DIAMETER 9 m / 30 ft
PROPELLANT CAPACITY 3400 t / 6.8 Mlb
THRUST 72 MN / 16 Mlbf

PAYLOAD

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The Starship payload fairing is 9 m in diameter and 18 m high, resulting in the largest usable payload volume of any current or in development launcher. This payload volume can be configured for both crew and cargo.

PAYLOAD VOLUME HEIGHT 18 m / 59 ft
PAYLOAD FAIRING DIAMETER 9 m / 30 ft
PAYLOAD VOLUME 1,100 m3 / 38,800 ft3
USEFUL MASS 100+ t / 220+ klb

EVENT

Starship Update

STARSHIP USES

SATELLITES

Starship is designed to deliver satellites further and at a lower marginal cost per launch than our current Falcon vehicles. With a payload compartment larger than any fairing currently in operation or development, Starship creates possibilities for new missions, including space telescopes even larger than the James Webb.

STARSHIP USES

SPACE STATION

Starship can deliver both cargo and people to and from the ISS. Starship’s fairing provides significant capacity for in-space activities. The aft cargo containers can also host a variety of payloads.

STARSHIP USES

MOON MISSIONS

Developing bases to support future space exploration requires the transport of large amounts of cargo to the Moon for research and human spaceflight development. Starship is designed to carry these building blocks.

STARSHIP USES

INTERPLANETARY TRANSPORT

Building cities on Mars will require affordable delivery of significant quantities of cargo and people. The fully reusable Starship system uses in-space propellant transfer to achieve this and carry people on long-duration, interplanetary flights.

LANDING ON MARS

Starship will enter Mars’ atmosphere at 7.5 kilometers per second and decelerate aerodynamically. The vehicle’s heat shield is designed to withstand multiple entries, but given that the vehicle is coming into Mars' atmosphere so hot, we still expect to see some ablation of the heat shield (similar to wear and tear on a brake pad). The engineering video below simulates the physics of Mars entry for Starship.

Watch Simulation

Engines

Raptor

The Raptor engine is a reusable methalox staged-combustion engine that powers the Starship launch system. Raptor engines began flight testing on the Starship prototype rockets in July 2019, becoming the first full-flow staged combustion rocket engine ever flown.

DIAMETER 1.3 m / 4 ft
HEIGHT 3.1 m / 10.2 ft
THRUST 2 MN / 440 klbf

FIRST PRIVATE LUNAR MISSION

In 2023, Japanese entrepreneur Yusaku Maezawa and the crew of dearMoon will become the first civilian passengers on a lunar Starship mission, featuring a fly-by of the Moon during their week-long journey. The dearMoon project is currently accepting applications for eight civilians to join Yusaku Maezawa on the Starship flight, an important step toward enabling access for people who dream of traveling to space. Visit the dearMoon website to learn more on how to apply to potentially become a dearMoon crew member!

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