The 120-metre-tall unmanned rocket, whose lower part of its 33 engines resemble the multifaceted eyes of an insect, was launched at sunrise local time on Saturday from the Boca Chica base in Texas.
The first flight ended in a fireball after four minutes in April. The big explosion was expected last time. In all of Elon Musk’s companies (Tesla is also his company) there is a “try, fail, learn” culture. “We’re really happy that he was able to leave the launch pad,” said SpaceX commentators who gave the webcast in April.
Starship’s second launch was more successful. The test flight of the largest and most powerful rocket ever built by humanity was intended, among other things, to test a new launch method. The rocket’s first stage, called the booster, is separated from the rest of the rocket, while the engines continue to run. This “hot staging” had already been used in the 1960s, but had never before been used on a reusable rocket, such as Starship.
The danger in this maneuver is that the booster is damaged by the rocket engines in the second stage. It appeared that did not happen at first on Saturday, but the booster exploded a few moments after the connection was cut. “We will investigate what happened and use this information to improve subsequent boosters,” SpaceX said.
Then the upper part of the rocket, containing the spacecraft, appeared to continue flying on its first orbit around Earth. But after a few minutes, flight control lost contact with the ship, which may have blown itself up. What went wrong is under investigation.
Human Mars colony
One day, the spacecraft should make a human colony on Mars possible, a long-cherished dream of SpaceX boss Elon Musk. First stop: the moon. But on Saturday, the orbit around the Earth was considered a good start. But this goal does not appear to have been achieved.
All parts of the spacecraft, which will soon be able to deliver more than a hundred tons of payload into space at once, must be able to safely return to Earth in the future so that they can be used again. This would significantly reduce the costs of space travel.
But first we must learn a lot. For example, the 33 rocket motors destroyed the concrete of the launch pad during the first launch. There is now a thicker metal plate to absorb the worst hits and heat. The Flood of Scripture also protected the platform this time.
According to SpaceX, there will be several test flights before the new spacecraft takes commercial flights.
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