SpaceX yesterday (August 4) completed a historic test flight of its Starship spacecraft designed for future missions to the Moon and eventually Mars. The SpaceX Starship SN5 successfully completed an impressive 500ft (150m) hop from the pioneering space company’s South Texas facility.
This test saw the reusable rocket hop from one launchpad and perform a controlled landing on a separate launchpad.
We’ll do several short hops to smooth out launch process, then go high altitude with body flaps
And soon after the latest successful round of tests, Mr Musk took to Twitter to outline what could next be in store for Starship.
He wrote: “Legs will be ~60 percent longer. V2.0 legs will be much wider and taller — like [current SpaceX rocket] Falcon, but capable of landing on unimproved surfaces and auto-levelling.”
Mr Musk was apparently referring to the craft’s stubby telescopic legs, used to ensure the Starship prototype can securely land.
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SpaceX Starship: The SpaceX Starship SN5 successfully completed an impressive 500ft (150m) ‘hop’
SpaceX Starship: Elon Musk took to twitter to outline what could next be in store
SpaceX recently updated the design of the Starship’s landing gear.
Early renders depicted the legs as resembling SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket boosters, extending from the rocket’s sides.
Mr Musk wrote in a June tweet: “We’re working on new legs. Wider stance and able to auto-level.
“Important for leaning into wind or landing on rocky and pitted surfaces.”
SpaceX Starship: Starship could eventually send assorted space cargo and eventually astronauts to Mars
And so it has proved, with the landing gear used in yesterday’s test involving legs switching from attachment points inside Starship’s fuselage.
The South African billionaire then answered a question from Twitter user Pranay Pathole, who asked: “What’s next, Elon? 20km hop?”
Mr Musk tweeted in response: “We’ll do several short hops to smooth out launch process, then go high altitude with body flaps.”
This suggests the next round of Starship tests may well see the SpaceX rocket fly much higher.
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The hint aligns with plans to launch the Starship into orbit on top of an even taller booster rocket named the “Super Heavy” on an as-yet-unannounced date.
This will fulfil plans to deliver assorted space cargo and eventually astronauts into orbit.
And Elon Musk’s ambitions do not end there, with plans including an in-orbit refuelling capability to enable lunar trips.
SpaceX Starship: SpaceX yesterday completed a historic, test flight
US space agency NASA selected SpaceX’s Starship vehicle as one of three contenders, including Blue Origin and Dynetics, to develop lunar landers for its Artemis programme.
The contract will see an astronaut-sized lunar lander facilitate manned Moon missions by the year 2024.