SpaceX aims to return NASA astronauts to the Moon by 2025 and land the first humans on Mars before 2029. The company has been developing the Starship launch system at its Starbase facility in South Texas since 2019. It has rapidly advanced the rocket-ship’s development in just a couple of years. Engineers have performed multiple high-altitude flight tests above Boca Chica Beach and are already preparing to perform Starship’s debut orbital flight test.
SpaceX landed a Starship prototype for the first time a year ago today. On May 5th, 2021, the Starship SN15 vehicle soared up into cloudy skies, marking the fourth flight of a Starship into an altitude of approximately 10-kilometers. SpaceX demonstrated precise control of the stainless-steel vehicle as it shut down each Raptor one-by-one on ascent. The vehicle performed its signature belly-flop maneuver as it fell back down from the sky. Upon landing at the Starbase pad, Starship quickly flipped from horizontal to vertical by igniting two of its methane-fueled engines, and for the first time a Starship the vehicle landed without exploding on the launch pad, concluding a nominal test flight.
TESMANIAN had the privilege to witness history firsthand from the nearby Isla Blanca Park, located at South Padre Island, Texas, which has a clear view of the Starbase launch pad around 5-miles across the ocean. Hundreds of spectators at the island cheered with excitement knowing that the successful landing would pave the way to Starship’s next development phase. Watch a video of Starship SN15's flight linked below.
A year ago today, SpaceX launched & landed Starship SN15. @elonmusk It still feels surreal that it is all happening at my hometown's beach where as a kid I camped under the stars, talked about spaceships & far away worlds, now an actual fleet of Starships is under development! https://t.co/y3KKx1f7Sq— Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo ♡ (@JaneidyEve) May 5, 2022
Since its successful landing, Starship SN15 has been on display at Starbase ‘rocket garden’ where people can go and take photos next to the giant stainless-steel beast that is currently standing next to other prototypes, pictured below. SpaceX founder Elon Musk mentioned in February he would donate a Starship prototype for display at the Brownsville South Padre Island International Airport (BRO). The location is ideal to display a Starship because a street in front of the newly built airport is named ‘Starship Road.’
☆ Starship Fleet ☆ pic.twitter.com/BDG1opOFek— Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo ♡ (@JaneidyEve) March 29, 2022
Starship SN15 was the final Starship test vehicle to take flight, the company is currently awaiting approval to launch an orbital flight test that will require a gigantic Super Heavy rocket to propel a Starship to orbit. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has been conducting an environmental assessment of the Starbase launch site for roughly 11 months, which has caused the Starship development to be delayed. The FAA now plans to complete the review by May 31st after four delays. Company officials still remain optimistic and target to launch to orbit as soon as the review is completed.
VIDEO: STARSHIP SN15 FLIGHT TEST
Featured Images Source: SpaceX
About the Author
Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo
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.