What is the first step to settling on Mars? Figuring out a way to get there. With Elon Musk’s SpaceX looking to launch its latest Starship rocket in the coming week, such a possibility may be closer than ever imagined before.
On Tuesday, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk announced plans to launch the latest prototype of SpaceX Starship rocket—which is designed to send humans into outer space—as soon as “next week.” This would spell SpaceX’s most ambitious flight test to date.
The Starship prototype Serial Number 8, or SN8, represents a stainless-steel real-life version of a Starship, envisioned to take cargo as well as more than 100 people at a time, to the Moon, Mars, and hopefully, beyond. This fully reusable Starship would be powered by liquid oxygen and methane so that astronauts could fly to Mars, refuel using the Planet’s abundant resources, and either return home or voyage further into the galaxy.
According to Space.com, the Starship SN8 prototype completed a static test fire on Tuesday at 6:23 p.m. Eastern at SpaceX’s Texas facility. This was the fourth such test for the prototype. This is the procedure held before a launch in which the engines are fired, while the vehicle is held in place.
In SN8’s potential launch next week, the aim is to reach an altitude of about 50,000 feet—100 times higher than its predecessors, the SN5 and SN6. Musk further explained in a tweet that the “goals are to test 3 engine ascent, body flaps, transition from main to header tanks & landing flip.”
After achieving the first vertical soft landing of a reusable orbital rocket on 21st December 2015, Musk’s SpaceX has come a long way in making their space machines reusable. However, for Starship SN8 to land back successfully on the designated landing deck, a “lot of things need to go right” so there is “maybe 1/3 chance,” of success, according to Musk.
“But that’s why we have SN 9 and SN10,” he added.