SpaceX on Tuesday successfully completed a flight of less than a minute of the largest prototype ever tested by the future Starship rocket, which the company hopes to use one day to colonize Mars.
“Mars looks real,” SpaceX founder Elon Musk tweeted in response to a fan.
The current Starship prototype is quite raw: it’s a large metal cylinder, built in a few weeks by SpaceX teams on the Texas coast, in Boca Chica – but it’s still smaller than the actual rocket will be.
Several previous prototypes exploded during ground tests, during a learning process of trial and error.
Starship takes aerial photo.twitter.com/IWvwcA05hl
̵1; SpaceX (@SpaceX) August 5, 2020
In photos shared on Tuesday by several space specialists, including the space news website NASASpaceFlight.com, the latest prototype – called SN5 – reached an indefinite height before falling to land in a cloud of dust and showing good bank control.
“And when the smoke cleared, she stood there majestically after a 150-meter flight!” tweeted NASA’s top scientist, Thomas Zurbuchen.
The so-called “jump test” was planned to reach an altitude of 150 meters, but SpaceX has not confirmed any details about the test flight.
In 2019, an earlier prototype – the smaller Starhopper – flew to 150 meters in height and returned to land.
The Starship that Musk imagines will be 120 meters high and will be able to land vertically on Mars.
“We are going to the moon, we will have a base on the moon, we will send humans to Mars and make life multi-planetary,” Musk said on Sunday after welcoming two NASA astronauts back from the International Space Station.
The astronauts had traveled in the Dragon capsule developed by SpaceX.
© Agence France-Presse