Elon Musk’s Starship completed a 500 foot test “flight” on Tuesday, August 4 at 4:56 p.m. CDT in Boca Chica, Texas. Starship serial number 5 (SN5) lifted off from its launch mount and flew to a height of 150 meters before successfully touching down on a nearby landing pad. See video of test here.
On the SN5 flight test, SN5 was powered by a single Raptor engine—a reusable methalox full-flow staged-combustion rocket engine. This test flight was an important step in development of SpaceX’s fully reusable transportation system designed to carry both crew and cargo to Earth orbit, the Moon, Mars and beyond.
SpaceX’s Starship spacecraft and Super Heavy rocket (collectively referred to as Starship) represent a fully reusable transportation system designed to carry both crew and cargo to Earth orbit, the Moon, Mars and beyond. Starship will be the world’s most powerful launch vehicle ever developed, with the ability to carry over 100 metric tonnes to Earth orbit. When complete, Starship will be 394 feet in height and 30 feet in diameter, including its first stage and booster rockets. Once in space, Starship will be 160 feet in height and 30 feet in diameter.
Starship is designed to deliver satellites further and at a lower marginal cost per launch than our current Falcon vehicles. With a payload compartment larger than any fairing in operation or development, Starship creates possibilities for new missions, including space telescopes even larger than the James Webb.
Starship will enter Mars’ atmosphere at 7.5 kilometers per second and decelerate aerodynamically. The vehicle’s heat shield withstands multiple entries, but given that the vehicle is coming into Mars’ atmosphere so hot, we still expect to see some ablation of the heat shield (similar to wear and tear on a brake pad). The engineering video below simulates the physics of Mars entry for Starship.