Triumph and explosions: SpaceX conducted the second orbital test of Starship

On November 18, SpaceX conducted the second orbital test of the superheavy Starship rocket. Though the test could not be completed again, it turned out to be much more successful than the first one.

The second orbital test of Starship. Source: John Kraus

The flight took place as follows. Super Heavy and Starship successfully broke away from the launch pad and began to rise. This time, all 33 Raptor engines installed on the booster worked in unison, without any failures. Having reached the desired height, Super Heavy successfully separated from Starship. After that, the booster started performing the return manoeuvre. However, after a few seconds, its “quick disassembly” took place. The booster exploded at an altitude of about 90 km.

As for Starship, the prototype of the spacecraft continued to rise. As a result, it managed to reach the mark of 148 km. However, just a few seconds before the engines shut down, when Starship was moving at a speed of 6.7 km/s, and its fuel tanks were almost empty, communication with it was lost. Later, SpaceX reported that the spacecraft was destroyed by the flight termination system. At the moment, the reason for its operation is unknown.

Despite the fact that during the second test of Starship, two explosions occurred at once, it turned out to be much more successful for SpaceX than the first flight. Contrary to fears, all 33 Raptor engines on the Super Heavy fully worked out the entire flight section without any shutdowns. In addition, SpaceX could successfully test a new booster separation system, and Starship almost reached the desired height.

Now the company has to figure out the reasons for the destruction of Super Heavy, as well as the activation of the Starship flight termination system. Another important issue is the condition of the launch pad. We would soon find out how effective the measures taken by SpaceX specialists turned out to be, which were supposed to reduce its damage during the launch of Starship.

The second orbital test of Starship. Source: John Kraus

In any case, the new Starship flight presented a very spectacular sight for all fans of cosmonautics. And the fact that SpaceX has managed to solve a significant part of the tasks set gives hope that for the third time we will see not only the launch of the spacecraft into orbit, but also its landing.

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