SN11 nears apogee on March 30, 2021 over SpaceX’s South Texas launch site. [credit:
Trevor Mahlmann ]
Despite a thickly fogged launch site in South Texas, SpaceX let its SN11 Starship prototype fly on Tuesday morning at 8 am local time.
An onboard camera showed the vehicle making a nominal ascent to about 10 km, shutting off its three Raptor rocket engines in turn. As the vehicle ascended, it cleared the low cloud deck into blue skies. Starship then hovered before beginning its return to Earth.
The camera attached to the Starship vehicle’s exterior provided imagery during the descent, which appeared to be fairly smooth as the vehicle “flopped” over and oriented itself to come back through the thickening atmosphere. During three previous high-altitude flights, Starship prototypes have performed this graceful maneuver without much apparent difficulty.