The recent demo flight of SpaceX Starship prototype, conducted by Elon Musk and SpaceX took man-kind one step closer to the interplanetary travel mission to Mars. That’s right. Humanity is one step closer to becoming a multi-planetary species. The vision achieved its first benchmark when SpaceX launched a giant metal thermos into the Texas sky on 4th July 2020 evening.
It was a 150-meter high tiny hop by SN5 Starship prototype that took place at the Boca Chica development facility of SpaceX at 5 PM PT. The prototype consisted of a single Raptor engine that slowly rose into the air (about nine-story-tall) after ignition. After that, it gently returned to the ground and landing safely. By looking at the flight video, one can conclude that it was a landing test of the prototype.
Although Elon Musk only achieved a tiny fraction of the 35+ million miles that he wishes to achieve, it’s a very big achievement for human-kind. That day is not far when humans can travel to Mars. At starting, when the engine first ignited, it appeared that SN5 was struggling to take-off, but then it slowly gained momentum and rose above its smoke, hovered in the air for few seconds, and did a soft landing.
A long-awaited success
It’s not an overnight success. After plenty of hardships, errors, and a handful of previous prototypes failures, Elon Musk and SpaceX were able to make this low-altitude test flight a success. The idea is to make SN5 ready for an orbital flight, but before pushing into space, it had to successfully complete this tiny hop.
It is not a complete spacecraft, but a tiny part of it. It is roughly 30 meters tall, which is a fuel tank with a single raptor engine of the final Starship spacecraft. The engine was loaded with a weight that simulates a payload, thus making it look like a thermos.
Elon Musk also shared footage of the flight on SpaceX Twitter handle:
August has been a great start for SpaceX. The other day, the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft successfully returned with NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken from the International Space Station. The spacecraft successfully landed in the Gulf of Mexico. The data collected on the Demo-2 mission will allow SpaceX to gear up for the first official flight of the crewed vehicle, which might take place later this year.
After sharing the flight testing video, Musk wrote: “Mars is looking real.”
It’s really hard to believe that interplanetary travel might become a reality. Well, with this bizarre-looking flight, anyone can have a doubt. But, we have to wait and see the next steps that Elon Musk and SpaceX would take on this long journey.