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SpaceX Starship Landing A Historic Success

ADH Staff WriterJune 7, 2024
07.06.24 spacex.jpg

SpaceX’s Starship rocket achieved a significant milestone on Thursday, successfully completing a full test mission around the globe with a controlled landing in the Indian Ocean. This marked a breakthrough for Elon Musk’s space company in its ambitious quest to develop a fully reusable rocket system for satellite launches and moon landings.

SpaceX’s success with Starship is crucial as it routinely flies astronauts to and from the International Space Station using its Crew Dragon capsule atop the Falcon 9 rocket. No private company has yet sent humans to the moon, making SpaceX’s advancements pivotal in the future of space exploration.

Previous test missions ended in explosions or disintegration, but this latest attempt showed substantial progress. Musk has indicated that SpaceX plans at least six Starship test flights this year, with more to follow as the company aims to demonstrate the rocket’s capability to safely land astronauts on the moon, under pressure from NASA.

The nearly 400-foot-tall Starship system, consisting of the Starship vessel mounted on the Super Heavy rocket booster, launched at 7:50 a.m. CDT (1250 GMT). The Super Heavy booster detached at an altitude of 74, and Starship continued its ascent, while the booster executed a soft splashdown in the Gulf of Mexico, demonstrating a landing that would typically occur on land.

Starship then coasted at 25,750 kilometres per hour at an altitude of roughly 200 km before beginning its descent.

Despite losing many heat-shield tiles and sustaining damage to one of its flaps, Starship successfully reignited an engine to flip upright for landing, ultimately splashing into the Indian Ocean.

The mission, which saw Starship survive a fiery, hypersonic return from space, culminated with the rocket’s descent into the Indian Ocean just 65 minutes after liftoff from SpaceX’s Starbase in South Texas.

This achievement is part of SpaceX’s test-to-failure strategy, involving multiple test flights to push the rocket’s limits and learn from each attempt.

“Despite loss of many tiles and a damaged flap, Starship made it all the way to a soft landing in the ocean!” Musk posted on X (formerly Twitter).

Starship’s design aims to be cheaper and more powerful than SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket, with full reusability being a key feature. NASA plans to use Starship to land astronauts on the moon by 2026, competing with China’s lunar ambitions.

While SpaceX’s development pace for Starship has been rapid compared to other rocket programs, it has not met Musk’s initial timelines.

A Japanese billionaire who paid for a lunar flight in 2018 cancelled his trip last week due to scheduling uncertainties.

Musk has acknowledged that Starship must launch hundreds of times before carrying humans, suggesting it could be years before it undertakes crewed missions or lands astronauts on the moon.

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