SpaceX is in the process of creating Starship, which would be its future-generation spacecraft. The development of the same is taking place at Boca Chica, Texas. So far, the organization has built a lot of Starship prototypes till today. The previous version of the prototype, named Starhopper, represented just the bottom-section of the rocket.
Now, according to the latest reports, SpaceX has flown its very first prototype that is almost complete. Starship, according to reports, has flown to a height of about 150m, just a little below 500 feet. The only thing missing in this prototype is the domed cap portion and the control fins present in the lower section. All of these would be appearing in the final version of the spaceship.
Amongst all the prototypes that have been made all along, this is the only one to have reached this far. The prototype is denoted as Starship SN5, which in simple words, denotes that this is the fifth to create in this series. In the beginning, SpaceX had created a full-blown craft called Starship Mk1. It was even before adapting to this current naming series. So this means that this would be the sixth spacecraft of this size that has been created. The earlier prototype versions underwent many failures. They ould not pass the pressure testing phase. Also, there was a fire that erupted during the static engine testing phase.
SN5 is, by far, one of the biggest of all the prototypes that have been created by SpaceX that took off and flew. On the 1st of July, SN5 cleared an important cryogenic pressure test. Once the results were successful, a Raptor engine was attached to the complete setup. Last week, on the 31st of July, it underwent a static engine fire testing phase, and the results were quite good. A tweet from Elon Musk confirmed the same.
It was decided that SN5 would undergo a flight test today for successful outcomes. Presently, only one Raptor engine has been fixed to the complete setup. The final Starship prototype is expected to have at least six Raptor engines onboard, thereby enabling a greater thrust. SN5 could successfully fly and land correctly without any issue. With this, we understand that all the external indicators are working as expected.
Fortunately, SN5 did not turn out to be like SN4, a prototype version created before this one. On the 29th of May 2020, SN4 exploded during an engine test.
During August 2019, Starhopper underwent a similar flying test. SpaceX has an aggressive action plan designed for its prototypes. It is working towards getting Starship completely functional, with an ability to fly payloads and the help of the functional orbital vehicle. It is being planned sometime early next year. Elon Musk had anticipated Starship to reach the moon by May 2020. However, things did not go as planned.
Starship is being created to pair it with a future Falcon Heavy booster. That would enable the complete setup to carry huge payloads that can orbit the Earth. The spacecraft could land on the moon, and finally, it could even reach Mars.
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