SpaceX Starship Replica Attempts The Bellyflop

SpaceX are perhaps most well known for their vertically-landing reusable rocket technology. The latest such effort is the Starship, which recently underwent a fiery test in the last month to attempt a bellyflop maneuver. [Nicholas Rehm] wanted to attempt a similar flight profile in the local park, and set to building an RC Starship of his own.

The build is like a few we’ve seen before, in which electric power is used to propel a rocket-like craft straight upwards using propellers and active stabilization. In this case, there’s a pair of twin motors with counter-rotating propellers which can pivot to direct their thrust, as well as four external control surfaces. These are all under the command of [Nicholas]’s custom flight controller.

Upon testing the rig, [Nicholas] was able to execute a smooth ascent, followed by a bellyflop, before a smooth return to vertical flight and descent. Landing vertically on the grass was out of the question, due to the rough surface, but we imagine it would be doable with the right landing gear attached.

While flight without wings in this manner isn’t particularly efficient, it’s great to see what can be achieved with smart use of control systems engineering to keep a craft stable. We look forward to seeing [Nicholas]’s next attempts, too. Video after the break.

20 thoughts on “SpaceX Starship Replica Attempts The Bellyflop

  1. I have a serious question about U.K./Commonwealth grammar. Is this correct?

    SpaceX are perhaps most well known…

    The reason I ask is in the U.S., this is incorrect. There’s only one thing (SpaceX the company) being referred to, and therefore it should read

    SpaceX is perhaps most well known…

    I saw the same thing with Mythbusters, where the narrator would often say “The team are trying…” Again, there’s only one team so it should be “The team is trying…”

    1. Yes. It is proper. They refer to a corporation as a group of people in the plural, as we should in the US. The singular should be reserved for the legal entity, not the decisions by a board or members.

  2. Do you think we could fight the trend and say “skydive” configuration? We all know how a belly flop ends. It is probably too late, so we will be stuck with another version of SDI –> Star Wars.

  3. Awesome science and mechanics.

    Hint: NEVER say “This is my last flight.” Always say “This will be my next to last flight.” The logic is obvious. Keep up the good work.

    From an old RCer.

  4. Cool! For some reason I never thought one could ‘simulate’ rocket power with standard R/C prop setup (or even ducted fan). Neat and as said above keep up the good work. I suspect one could work out the ‘code’ to automate this similar to spacex (lift mode, belly mode, land mode) … I like it!!! From an old RCer (and rocketeer) as well!

  5. I think it could use the “noob” landing gear for helicopters, which is essentially just a couple of long carbon fiber rods in an X shape on the bottom. It provides a wide support base without too much excess weight.

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