SpaceX Starship prototype makes clean landing

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Step by step, the SpaceX company is progressing the development of its novel Starship rocket.

The latest prototype, Serial Number 15 (SN15), has just completed a successful high-altitude ascent and landing.

The four previous test artefacts all ran into trouble as they went through their touchdown manoeuvres, ultimately destroying themselves in the process.

But SN15 had no such difficulty, making a tidy, controlled return to the ground at SpaceX’s R&D facility in Texas.

A small fire licked around the base of the vehicle on touchdown but was soon extinguished.

There’s considerable interest in the Starship concept now that the American space agency (Nasa) has chosen it to land astronauts on the Moon later this decade.

For SpaceX, lunar missions would be just one application of many for the new system.

The expectation is that Starships will replace the company’s Falcon rockets.

These existing vehicles carry out regular missions – both crewed and uncrewed – for Nasa, as well as satellite deployments for the US military and other commercial operators.

But SpaceX CEO, Elon Musk, believes the new 50m-tall Starship can do it all, bigger and better – and not just at Earth; he says the technology will get people to Mars.

Agencies

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