SpaceX’s Mars Starship prototype soars on test flight
San Francisco: A prototype of SpaceX’s Mars Starship spacecraft got off the ground in a test flight, marking a small step that could one day prove to be a giant leap towards the human exploration of the Red Planet.
The vehicle, Starship SN5, performed a small hop as it took to the skies for about 40 seconds on Tuesday, Space.com reported.
“Mars is looking real,” SpaceX CEO Elon Musk tweeted shortly after the test flight.
Starship is SpaceX’s ambitious spacecraft to take humans to the Red Planet. The company has been working on prototypes to find the right design that will work for the transport.
Several of Starship SN5’s predecessors got destroyed during test flights.
After SN5 performed the small hop, Musk said, “We’ll do several short hops to smooth out launch process, then go high altitude with body flaps.”
Last year, such a flight was performed by an earlier Starship prototype dubbed “Starhopper”.
SpaceX says its Starship spacecraft and Super Heavy rocket (collectively referred to as Starship) represent a fully reusable transportation system designed to carry both crew and cargo to Earth orbit, the Moon, Mars and beyond.
The company has been rapidly iterating on the design of Starship with orbital-flight targeted for 2020.
The previous iteration of the Starship prototype, SN4, exploded right after a static fire test in May this year.