The third attempt made me forget the previous two failures. After taking off from the Boca Sica base in Texas from Wednesday night to Thursday, SpaceX’s Starship SN10 was able to land smoothly on the prototype launch pad of the spacecraft. Due to a methane leak, the engine exploded about ten minutes later, but there was nothing to spoil the party: “One day the SpaceX team is doing a great job!”
SpaceX has built its reputation and its economic model on reusable rockets, which allows it to greatly reduce launch costs. Hours after the launch of the Starship SN10, the Falcon 9 rocket orbited the Starling galaxy’s sixty new satellites, landing for the eighth time in a row on a barrage from Florida.
Saturn is more powerful than V
But the Starship is not in the same category box as the Falcon 9 medium launcher or its heavier Falcon heavy version, which is even slower to convince space agencies. As its name suggests, the Starship is an orbiting spacecraft built for space exploration and capable of reaching the Moon or Mars. Therefore, it is comparable to the Saturn V rocket from the Apollo program.
The numbers speak for themselves. With its super heavy first stage, the Starship aircraft will have to smash records of altitude, mass and departure. A total of 130 meters (equivalent to a 48-storey building), with an area of 5,000 tons and a minimum orbital load capacity of one hundred tons. Its only competitors, over the next ten years, are the US organization SLS and future Chinese super-heavy launcher Long March 9, which is aimed at NASA’s Artemis lunar project. Starship wants to be completely reusable with a difference close to that. In the long run, it will also aim to replace the Falcon 9 and the Falcon Heavy, which are only partially the same.
The goal is Mars?
But Starship is, above all, the keystone of SpaceX’s best plan and its bubble boss: the colonization of Mars. The company’s website devotes an entire page to the subject, describing how a ship of ships carrying men or equipment could rotate between the Earth’s orbit and the surface of the Red Planet. Once removed from Earth’s gravity by its super heavy first phase, the starship will be powerful enough to reach Mars, land on it, and depart again without any problems (Mars’ gravity reaches only 38% of Earth). The spacecraft can be filled directly into orbit using methane and oxygen tanks.
But before landing on the red planet, it is on the moon that the starship can do its test period well. SpaceX was one of three private companies selected last year by NASA to develop a future lander for the Artemis project, which is expected to bring a U.S. crew back to the moon by 2024. And the company has already sold a ticket to Japanese billionaire Yusaku Mesawa for a trip around the moon on the Starship. The fashion mogul posted a video on his Twitter account on Wednesday, inviting eight people from around the world to come with him. Boarding is scheduled for 2023 … if SpaceX meets its deadline.