Ya Gotta Stick the Landing
Personally, I wouldn’t call it a “Starship.” Unlike the Enterprise in Star Trek, the vessel in which Elon Musk’s SpaceX hopes to send humans to Mars won’t be capable of surpassing, reaching or even approaching the speed of light; so interstellar travel simply won’t be feasible. Still, putting a man or woman on Mars will be pretty cool as long as we can bring them back home safely. And this past Wednesday, March 3rd, 2021, SpaceX took another step towards making that happen, even if it then took half a step backwards.
At around 3 PM in South Texas, with only a tenth of a second remaining until the first launch attempt of prototype Starship SN10, it was automatically aborted because of pre-set rocket thrust standards described by Musk as “slightly conservative.” Musk then liberalized those standards a bit, and at around 5:15 or so, it was successfully launched, and rose to a height of about 6 miles, following in the footsteps of prototypes SN8 and SN9. Unlike its predecessors, however, this one didn’t crash.
After 6 minutes and 20 seconds, the flight ended in a pleasantly soft touch down, right on the landing pad… Three minutes later, though, flames became visible; and at around 6:30 PM it exploded, also right on the landing pad. Still, the goal of the test was to generate data on how the ship’s flaps would control its unique belly-flop style of descent through the Earth’s atmosphere; and that was achieved.
Many more test flights will soon follow, as Musk hopes to have a Starship prototype in orbit this year, and plans to be taking human beings to Mars in 2023. Starship will need the boost of a Super Heavy rocket equipped with 30 Raptor engines in order to escape from Earth’s gravitational pull. But Starship itself will have 6 Raptors of its own, which will provide it with the necessary thrust to escape Mars and our moon, each of which is much less massive than the third planet. Both rocket and ship will be reusable.
So, if Elon Musk has his way, human travel between here and Mars will be a regular thing before the next presidential election…
SpaceX's SN10 Starship prototype lands after epic test launch - but then explodes
SpaceX's latest prototype went out in a blaze of glory. The Starship SN10 spacecraft touched down successfully after a…