You have to admire the drive and enthusiasm of Elon Musk and his team in developing their own way to future space flight. The pictures of the shiny SN 9 Starship and its partner SN10 remind me of 1950’s science fiction novel book covers. The view of SN9 and SN10 next to each other on the launchpad is not something we are used to. Unfortunately SN9 did not align vertically for its landing in early February 2021, which resulted in a fiery crash. Its predecessor befell a similar fate.
“We’ve just got to work on that landing a little bit,” said SpaceX launch commentator John Insprucker. “Reminder – this is a test flight.”
This is an exciting project that has yet to nail a return to Earth. There’s a bit to work to do there, but the final events of the descent are tricky and need a concerted effort, plus many more tests, to solve the problems.
No doubt that is currently underway – prior to the lunch of SN10.
What is SpaceX?
SpaceX is an American aerospace manufacturer and space transportation services company stationed in Hawthorne, California. It was founded in 2002 by Elon Musk with the ambitious goal of reducing space transportation costs in order to enable the colonization of Mars. SpaceX has developed several launch vehicles, including the Dragon cargo spacecraft and the Starlink satellite constellation (for internet access), and the company have taken humans to the ISS on SpaceX Dragon2.
They have had many successes, but also some drawbacks.
Wherein lies the future?
SpaceX expects to reach low Earth orbit in 2021. This is to be followed by routine flights and demonstration of in-orbit refueling in 2022. A tourist mission around the Moon is planned for 2023. SpaceX has the goal of sending the first unmanned Starship to Mars in 2024.
That’s a lot to digest. They are worthy and well defined targets and if the timing slips – so what? At least they have set targets.
There is no doubt the landing problems will be solved.
To date, Starship is the world’s most powerful launch vehicle ever developed. It has the ability to carry in excess of 100 metric tonnes to Earth orbit. Drawing on an extensive history of launch vehicle and engine development programs, the company has a pioneering eye on the future, despite the setbacks. Check out this simulation video:
I’ll leave the last word to Elon Musk himself:
“You want to wake up in the morning and think the future is going to be great – and that’s what being a spacefaring civilization is all about. It’s about believing in the future and thinking that the future will be better than the past. And I can’t think of anything more exciting than going out there and being among the stars.”