Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

SpaceX SN15 Starship Sticks Its Landing

By Rich Smith - May 6, 2021 at 2:41PM

You’re reading a free article with opinions that may differ from The Motley Fool’s Premium Investing Services. Become a Motley Fool member today to get instant access to our top analyst recommendations, in-depth research, investing resources, and more. Learn More

Starship goes up. Starship comes down. Starship doesn't explode -- success!

At long last, it's a clear win for SpaceX and its "Starship," the rocket SpaceX wants to use to take mankind back to the moon -- and then to Mars.

A series of test launches ending in fiery impacts, then an apparently successful landing that exploded seconds after it appeared to have succeeded (SN10), then a flight that might have been successful but was conducted in such thick fog that SpaceX had to destroy the vehicle in flight (SN11), concluded yesterday when Starship SN15 took off from SpaceX's Spaceport in Boca Chica, Texas, flew to 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) altitude, descended, and conducted a picture-perfect landing on its tail.

The stainless steel, 164-foot-tall Starship SN1 at night.

Starship SN1. The Starship that started it all. Image source: SpaceX.

Round trip: 6 minutes, 8 seconds.

Once again, to clear up any confusion, SpaceX has pre-named its test flights, so that the number following the alphabetic code (SN1, SN11, SN15, etc.) doesn't necessarily refer to the number of test flights the company has conducted as of any given date. In this latest test, SN15 directly followed the aborted SN11 -- skipping past SN12, 13, and 14.

Next up (unless plans change), SpaceX intends to fly test flights SN16 and SN17, testing the Starship's upgraded design and its ability to withstand the heat of an atmospheric reentry. According to our friends at Next Spaceflight, the company will also attempt at least one test flight of its Super Heavy rocket booster (which will serve as the first stage of an orbital-class Starship) in June, followed by an orbital launch attempt of a Starship atop a Super Heavy booster -- perhaps as early as July -- which flight SpaceX calls "SN20."

The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Invest Smarter with The Motley Fool

Join Over 1 Million Premium Members Receiving…

  • New Stock Picks Each Month
  • Detailed Analysis of Companies
  • Model Portfolios
  • Live Streaming During Market Hours
  • And Much More
Get Started Now

Related Articles

Motley Fool Returns

Motley Fool Stock Advisor

Market-beating stocks from our award-winning analyst team.

Stock Advisor Returns
S&P 500 Returns

Calculated by average return of all stock recommendations since inception of the Stock Advisor service in February of 2002. Returns as of 08/20/2022.

Discounted offers are only available to new members. Stock Advisor list price is $199 per year.

Premium Investing Services

Invest better with The Motley Fool. Get stock recommendations, portfolio guidance, and more from The Motley Fool's premium services.