On the heels of a successful Crew Dragon launch that saw SpaceX and NASA launch two astronauts from US soil, shuttle them to the International Space Station, and then bring them back safely, SpaceX is celebrating another success. Yesterday, the company performed a successful test flight of its Starship SN5 prototype – the launch was a short one, but everything seemed to go precisely as planned.
If you were watching the live stream yesterday, the angle we watched the flight from wasn’t the best, as the plumes of dust, dirt, and smoke from liftoff obscured SN5’s landing significantly. The smoke and dust is always going to obscure some of the process, but fortunately for those of us who want to see as much of the liftoff and landing as possible, SpaceX has published a better view of the Starship SN5’s “hop.”
The video SpaceX published to YouTube (which you can see embedded above) clocks in at a minute on the nose, but that’s enough time to see the launch and landing process from beginning to end. It starts off with an angled view from above the Starship SN5, but once the smoke begins to block the camera, the angle switches to inside the Starship, where we can see its Raptor engine firing as the landing legs pop out and the SN5 settles back on terra firma.
In a lot of ways, this test launch of the Starship SN5 represents a big step toward SpaceX’s end goal here, which is to use Starships like the SN5 in flights to both the Moon and Mars. SpaceX envisions a Starship that uses multiple Raptor engine and can take as many as 100 people at a time into space.
We have a long way to go until that happens, but as SpaceX founder Elon Musk said on Twitter after yesterday’s successful test flight, “Mars is looking real.” We’ll keep an eye on what happens with the SpaceX Starship from here, but things definitely look encouraging after this test flight.