Elon Musk’s SpaceX recently completed a nearly 500-foot ‘hop’ of its second Starship prototype named SN6. The massive rocket flew to the skies from the firm’s testing facility in Boca Chia, Texas, at 1:48 pm ET. SpaceX earlier conducted a successful liftoff of its predecessor, SN5.
The SN6 rocket was shaking on the launch pad that led it to the liftoff, while people from around the world witnessed the nine-story metallic cylinder ignite its massive Raptor engine and ascend into the air. This is the second attempt by SpaceX for SN6, initially scheduled for SpaceX launch at an earlier date but aborted due to poor weather.
Unlike its predecessor SN5, which had difficulty getting airborne, SN6 took off faster to air. After that, the rocket made a safe landing, but came down on an angle and leaned on the launch pad. Flames were also emerging from its base, though the ground crew immediately flushed out the fire. The roar of the Starship rocket taking off was heard from miles away, with one spectator stating that ‘it sounded like a thunder roll at a distance.’
The successful takeoff follows SpaceX’s Falcon 9 launch, which took SpaceX stock 60 new satellites into orbit. Musk stated, ‘we’re making good progress,’ referring to the massive craft’s construction. ‘The only thing that hinders progress on the Starship is the production system,’ he stated during a virtual Humans to Mars summit. ‘A year ago, there was nothing, and now we’ve got much in terms of production capability. So we are creating more ships.’
This is the second SpaceX NASA launch that SpaceX Starship made, though several previous prototypes exploded during their ground tests, as in trial and error. Each failure taught SpaceX company valuable lessons to design and material changes, which improved SN6, SN7, and SN8 prototypes. These prototypes are present in various stages of assembly within the Boca Chica site.
The SN6 is SpaceX’s planned next-generation fully reusable launch vehicle and the center of Musk’s ambitions to make human space travel affordable. He earlier stated that the lifetime of each SpaceX Starship would be around 20 to 30 years, similar to ‘an aircraft’.
A count of three on average Starship flights will launch from Earth each day, or around 1,000 flights a year, and each of these flights will have a capacity of more than 90,000 pounds.
These spaceships would continuously ferry people the entire 180 million miles to Mars. Musk predicts 1,000 human inhabitants by 2030 and around one million by the year 2050.
Musk unveiled SpaceX’s first Starship prototype in 2019 and hoped that the rocket would be soaring in low orbit by March 2020 and have people in it by 2020-end. However, the SpaceX Starship program has so far witnessed many issues in its journey. ‘I hope we do several flights,’ Musk stated. ‘The first ones may not work as this is uncharted territory. ‘Nobody so far has ever created a fully reusable orbital rocket. So just owning one is pretty significant.’
Despite facing numerous setbacks, Musk is currently aiming for the rocket’s first orbital test flight in the year 2021.
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