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When will a Starship successfully land?


There have been two 10+ km testflights of prototypes of SpaceX's reusable Starship upper stage, meant to verify the rocket's landing manuever, one on December 8th 2020, the other on February 2nd 2021. Both flights have ended in Rapid Unscheduled Disassembly (RUD) upon contact with the ground.

When will a SpaceX Starship upper stage successfully land?

This question resolves to the time of the first Starship flight that both goes above 5 km, and successfully lands in one piece, in a manner representative of how the Starship is meant to land. The criteria for "flight" are the same as in this question, and what counts as a Starship is outlined in this other question, namely:

  • To trigger resolution, the prototype must be intact at an altitude of 5 km, having ascended by firing its engines. It does not count if an explosion flings portions of the prototype to an altitude of 5 km.

  • The vehicle must not be an existing member of the Falcon family (Falcon 9/Heavy) or a Falcon derivative

  • The vehicle should be intended to be fully reusable, with every stage returned to Earth (smaller portions such as fairings may be expended)

  • The vehicle must [represent part of an intended full launch system that has] a stated payload to LEO of at least 20,000 kg (of pure payload, e.g. the Space Shuttle Orbiter would not count as payload mass). This is very conservative, so Starship would qualify even if it were greatly scaled down from today.

  • The vehicle should be representative of a vehicle intended to carry a payload to Mars at some point, according to public statements of SpaceX or its representatives.

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