LeftieBiker wrote: ↑
Thu May 06, 2021 3:08 pm
first non-explosive landing (small fire notwithstanding, I guess) of a craft that's supposed to be used to carry crews on long missions
Sigh. This is not a craft that is supposed to carry crews on long missions.
These are a series of incremental, experimental prototypes of a whole new launch system. Each flight is testing new parts of the flight envelope. SN8 flying to 40K feet on 3 newly developed engines of a type never used before (*) was in and of itself a massive achievement. A successful landing hasn't been the goal of any flight *until* SN15 (this most recent one).
Many revisions from now there will come a vehicle derived from these early prototypes that will carry crews on long missions. Those won't explode.
No launch system has ever been developed this way before, using an agile like approach, with the process visible to the public. You can compare this to the development of SLS, 6 years late and billions over budget. When it flies next year (or the year after, since its schedule slips and slips) it will certainly not blow up. The flight alone will cost nearly $1.5B on top of the tens of billions spent on it's development. Meanwhile, each Starship prototype is costing about $15M (of which SpaceX is self funding).
is a good background description of the Raptor engine; non video version: https://everydayastronaut.com/raptor-engine/
This was created before any Raptor engines had flown, which was only 2 years ago.