Featured Image Source: @austinbarnard45 via Twitter
SpaceX is building multiple Starship prototypes at the company’s facility located in Boca Chica Beach, Brownsville, Texas. These prototypes will undergo a series of tests that will offer engineers insight towards developing a spaceflight-ready Starship. The founder of SpaceX Elon Musk says Starship is the key to ‘preserving the light of consciousness.’ “The future of humanity is going to bifurcate in two directions: Either it’s going to become multi-planetary, or it’s going to remain confined to one planet and eventually there’s going to be an extinction event,” he said. The company runs operations every day to build the spacecraft that will enable humans to become a multi-planet species.
SpaceX has tested a couple of Starship prototypes at Boca Chica, some imploded during testing. On August 3rd, SpaceX attempted to conduct a test launch of a Starship prototype referred to as ‘SN5’ [Serial Number 5]. The shiny stainless-steel vehicle was fueled at the Boca Chica launch pad a couple of miles down the assembly facility. Under the Texas 90-degree Fahrenheit heat teams worked to prepare Starship SN5 for its 150-meter debut flight on Monday. Seconds after the test flight attempt, the test flight was aborted. Musk shared why the launch was aborted – “Scrubbed for the day. A Raptor turbo-pump spin start valve didn’t open, triggering an automatic abort. We’ll figure out why & retry tomorrow,” he said. I was out there at SpaceX in South Texas and captured video of the scrubbed launch attempt, shown below.
Today, August 4th, SpaceX attempted a second launch attempt in the morning. The launch was automatically aborted again, Musk didn’t explain what caused the issue but he said teams would “Most likely” attempt to conduct the 150-meter test fight a second time. Then, SpaceX prepared the vehicle at the launch pad to attempt a third time.
The ‘third time's a charm’! – SpaceX teams successfully conducted a test flight of Starship SN5. The vehicle propelled itself approximately 150-meters above the ground with the power of a single Raptor engine. Engineers also landed SN5 flawlessly on a nearby launch pad. The successful test flight brings the company closer towards taking a Starship vehicle to orbit. Residents captured footage of today’s launch, video below.
LAUNCH! Starship SN5 has launched on a 150 meter test hop at SpaceX Boca Chica.— Chris B - NSF (@NASASpaceflight) August 4, 2020
Under the power of Raptor SN27, SN5 has conducted what looks like a successful flight!
Listen to the SpaceXers cheer!
Mary (@BocaChicaGal) filming history!
Livestream: https://t.co/rUNxATy7VJ pic.twitter.com/p5UTRFd0gI
Teams are currently building multiple stainless-steel prototypes to test out. The next one is expected to conduct a test flight of around 20-kilometers above Boca Chica beach. Engineers are working on a tight schedule to develop a space-ready Starship. They aim to achieve it within two years. Before sending humans to Mars, SpaceX plans to launch a Starship carrying cargo in 2022. If the mission goes smoothly, the target date to send the first humans to the Red Planet is the year 2024. Starship will be a two-stage launch vehicle capable of transporting tons of cargo and one hundred passengers on long-duration voyages through deep space. Starship will require a gigantic rocket booster called Super Heavy -which will only be utilized to lift off the Starship spacecraft out of Earth’s atmosphere. The booster will return from space to conduct a vertical landing at a spaceport, like SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket.
We will see more of these test flights take place in the months ahead, until SpaceX feels confident to launch a Starship test vehicle to orbit. Congratulations to SpaceX!
Today marks the beginning of a new era, even though this is a small step. We are a giant leap closer to mars than we were yesterday, the future of interplanetary travel is upon us. MARS HERE WE COME!🔥🚀 pic.twitter.com/PM73bTBS5k— Austin Barnard🚀 (@austinbarnard45) August 5, 2020