SpaceX’s Starship launch vehicle development is on track. Engineers successfully launched and landed the Starship SN15 prototype during a test flight last week. On May 5th, the stainless-steel SN15 vehicle lifted off from the Boca Chica Beach launch pad under cloudy skies. The vehicle soared 10-kilometers into the thick fog becoming nearly invisible but the six-minute-long aerodynamic flight went according to plan; the vehicle relighted its methane-fueled Raptor engines and touched down flawlessly on a nearby landing pad. Starship SN15 is the first test vehicle to ace the landing without exploding. SpaceX founder Elon Musk said on Friday that they “Might try to refly SN15 soon,” he wrote via Twitter.
Might try to refly SN15 soon— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 7, 2021
"These test flights of Starship are all about improving our understanding and development of a fully reusable transportation system designed to carry both crew and cargo on long-duration interplanetary flights, and help humanity return to the Moon, and travel to Mars and beyond," the company stated. SpaceX’s goal is to build a fully reusable launch vehicle. Reusing Starship SN15 would provide engineers with valuable insight towards the spacecraft’s development. The next prototypes that are set to take flight SN16 and SN17 are already under assembly. Musk could opt for launching SN15 before launching the new vehicles or in between their test flights. Building a reusable launch system that can be as rapidly reusable as airplanes has not been done by any aerospace company yet. SpaceX is taking on the challenge to develop the spacecraft that could conduct multiple crewed flights per day. Falcon 9 is only 85% reusable, Starship will be designed for 100% reusability. –“The vehicle we’re working on, Starship is the holy grail of which is full reusability,” Musk said last year.
Starship will make use of a Super Heavy rocket booster to propel it to orbit. The first booster prototype is also under development, alongside a giant launch tower that is under construction in South Texas. Musk aims to launch the first Starship test vehicle to orbit by Summer this year. The company says that Starship will one day become the world’s most powerful launch vehicle. Starship will be capable of transporting one hundred passengers on long-duration interplanetary missions. You can watch SpaceX Starship launch pad operations Live 24/7 in the video linked below, courtesy of LabPadre via YouTube.
SpaceX South Texas Starship Launch Pad Live 24/7
Featured Image Source: SpaceX
About the Author
Evelyn J. Arevalo joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover news as a Space Journalist and SpaceX Starbase Texas Correspondent. Evelyn is specialized in rocketry and space exploration. The main topics she covers are SpaceX and NASA.