It was only a matter of time: SpaceX’s Starship prototype has finally completed a landing without exploding either before or after it touched the ground. Explosions completely failed to occur, depriving us of the joy of seeing something explode but witnessing one of Elon Musk’s new rockets make it to the ground is worth it.
Wish upon a Starship
Starship SN15 (it jumped ahead a few numbers in the sequence) successfully landed at the company’s Boca Chica facility. You should know the procedure by now — SpaceX sent its prototype, sitting on top of three of its Raptor engines, 10km up into the air. It stopped and dropped in a so-called ‘belly flop’, a procedure that was halted close to Earth when the rocket tipped upwards again and used its boosters to settle on the ground.
Previously, this process was only theoretical. Because, well, explosions. But the upgraded version of Starship has managed to successfully settle on the ground in a nominal landing. There was, however, a small fire on the side of the rocket that burned for some twenty minutes before going out.
Now, this doesn’t mean that we’re heading off to Mars immediately with between 50 and 200 tonnes (depending on whether you want the rocket back or not) of gear, but it is another step along the way to off-planet colonisation. Clearly, there is still a way to go but we’re further along than we were before.
Source: Ars Technica