SpaceX’s Starship SN15 prototype launched successfully overnight Wednesday through Thursday from Texas, before making a successful landing. A great first for the company and its future interplanetary vessel.
We were waiting for him. The Starship SN15, the newest vehicle of SpaceX, was to be illustrated for a few days already. After several postponements, its launch finally took place that night, shortly after midnight. The spaceship took off, rose to an altitude of ten kilometers, then began its descent. The Starship then landed successfully about six minutes after launch.
We will nevertheless note the start of a fire declared under the vessel a few seconds after it touched, but it was quickly brought under control by the water hoses.
It is therefore the first time that SpaceX has achieved the feat of recovering without damage one of these Starship prototypes.
Indeed, the first prototype to be illustrated, the SN8, was successfully launched on December 9 but crashed during landing. Each of the other three Starship flights (SN9, SN10 and SN11), had subsequently suffered similar fates. The launch of the SN10 still managed to land, but then unfortunately exploded a few minutes after it hit. As a reminder, none of these flights targeted space, but an altitude of ten kilometers.
We are now waiting for the sequel, which could follow quickly. Last week, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) not only authorized the launch of the SN15, but also the SN16 and SN17 vehicles scheduled for the coming weeks.
As a reminder, NASA recently set its sights on SpaceX as its sole supplier for its future lunar landers. An agreement which, obviously, has a lot of trouble to pass with its competitor, Blue Origin.
The amount of the contract between the agency and the company is $ 2.89 billion. This agreement includes the development costs of the “lunar version” of the Starship, an unmanned demonstration test, and a crewed landing from 2024.
In other words, when the Artemis program astronauts return to the moon as early as 2024, they will do so inside a fifty-meter-high ship. A view contrasts with the seven-meter-high lunar module inside which Armstrong and Aldrin settled to tread lunar soil in 1969.
Ultimately, this spacecraft will allow NASA to settle permanently on the Moon, while SpaceX will continue to progress towards its main objective: the planet Mars.