SpaceX Footage Shows Starship Rocket Test in Stunning Detail
SpaceX has released stunning footage (above) of its most recent Starship test, which includes annotations indicating the key stages in the spacecraft’s first soaring.
The commercial property transportation company, run by billionaire Elon Musk, launched the unscrewed Starship SN8 prototype at its test facility in Boca Chica, Texas on December 9th.
The next-generation spaceship, which SpaceX plans to combine with its super heavy rocket into a powerful two-stage vehicle for missions to the moon, Mars and beyond, reached an altitude of around 40,000 feet before its three Raptor engines failed its lineage.
After performing a unique controlled aerodynamic descent and flip-landing maneuver on the way down, the rocket engines were turned back on to slow the vehicle down as it landed just over six minutes after take off.
Despite the explosive end to the mission after the rocket fell to the ground at speed, SpaceX viewed the test flight as a great success as the team was able to collect a number of important data to further develop the advanced spacecraft.
The final Starship missile system consists of SpaceX’s first stage Super Heavy rocket and the second stage Starship spacecraft (collectively known as Starship).
The Super Heavy rocket will use 31 Raptor engines to propel the spaceship into space. After that, Starship will deploy a total of six Raptor engines for travel between different locations and be able to return to Earth or land on another planet. The spaceship could even carry up to 100 astronauts at the same time – so far the largest crew that went on a single mission consisted of eight astronauts who were on the NASA space shuttle in 1985.
SpaceX CEO Musk recently said that if future tests go according to plan, an unmanned spacecraft mission to Mars could take place as early as 2024.
Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, this year has been a busy year for SpaceX. In the summer, the Crew Dragon spacecraft flew astronauts to the ISS for the first time, while it was also making progress with its Starlink broadband initiative from space. In October, it made its 100th successful launch since its first Falcon 1 flight in 2008, and launched its 26th mission this year a few days ago to set a new record for the company. And then there’s Starship, SpaceX’s most ambitious project to date, and one that has the potential to transform space travel as we know it.