SpaceX's massive Starship launches successfully : NPR

SpaceX’s Colossal Starship Achieves Milestone with Successful Launch: NPR

On a remarkable Thursday, the SpaceX Starship spacecraft embarked on a journey skywards from Starbase, located in Boca Chica, Texas. This event was captured in a stunning photograph by Chandan Khanna, courtesy of AFP via Getty Images.

SpaceX achieved a significant milestone by successfully executing a test flight of its colossal Starship rocket. The launch occurred at the Starbase facility in Boca Chica, Texas, precisely at 9:25 a.m. ET. The launch process was seamless, with all 33 engines of the Starship’s “Super Heavy” booster igniting simultaneously. The massive rocket gracefully ascended, making its way over the Gulf of Mexico. Following this, the Starship separated from its booster and ventured into orbit to commence a series of tests in space.

Unfortunately, the Super Heavy booster encountered difficulties shortly before its planned landing in the Gulf, leading to its loss. Despite this setback, the Starship itself experienced a smooth journey into space. It transmitted live video footage back to Earth, showcasing views from high above, courtesy of the Starlink satellite network. This footage included the initial stages of the spacecraft’s re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere over the Indian Ocean. However, communication was lost during re-entry, and contact was not re-established. SpaceX suspects that the spacecraft disintegrated as it descended back to Earth.

Despite these challenges, the test flight is considered a monumental success for SpaceX, especially following the explosion of the rocket in two previous test flights. “I’m just completely blown away right now, what a day,” expressed Dan Huot, SpaceX’s communications manager, during the live webcast.

Starship stands as the largest rocket ever constructed, towering nearly 400 feet tall. Its first stage, known as Super Heavy, relies on the power of 33 Raptor engines working in unison to propel it towards orbit. Elon Musk, the founder of SpaceX, envisions this gigantic machine as a vehicle capable of transporting humans to the moon and Mars. Its robust stainless steel design is intended for reusability, potentially revolutionizing the economics of sending satellites and humans into orbit. In support of this vision, NASA has invested billions of dollars in SpaceX for the development of Starship as a lunar landing system, aiming to ferry astronauts to the moon’s surface.