SpaceX Test New Prototype
The SN10 took off from Boca Chica on the Texas coast at 5.15pm local time on March 3rd. Six minutes and 20 seconds later, returning from an altitude of around 10km. Landing gently onto its landing pad (1 of 3 prototypes to successfully complete a test flight to achieve touchdown).
However, Eight minutes after landing the rocket exploded at its base sending fiery pieces through the air. This should not diminish from the real progress Musk created by crafting a fully reusable launch system more powerful than the Saturn Vs used in the Apollo missions.
The company’s Falcon 9 rockets made Space X the world’s leading satellite-launch company. Starship is to be the reusable second stage of a much bigger system (twice as much thrust as the Merlins used on the Falcon 9). SN10, like its predecessors SN9 and SN8 have paved a path that Starship will need and Falcon lacks. The Falcon first stage relies on its engines to slow it down as it returns but Starship , which will need to use the atmosphere as a brake because it returns at higher speeds (the SN10 tried this out).
It was quite a site watching the rocket ascend 10 km to flip around an then 2 kilometers from the surface it relit its engines, flipped itself vertical, and set itself down (the landing was not quite as soft as anticipated).
Musk says that SN15, already under construction, will include significant upgrades (maybe supersonic flight for climbing beyond the atmosphere).
Maezawa Yusaku, a Japanese billionaire, has contracted SpaceX for a mission that would take him and a crew of eight around the Moon on a Starship. He expects to make that flight within 2 years time. SpaceX is not short of money which will help accomplish that goal (a recent round of financing brought $850m in new investment, valuing the company at $74bn).