On August 4th 2020, SpaceX’s Starship prototype vehicle completed a test flight from Boca Chica, Texas. The launch was scheduled to take place on August 3rd but for some technical issue, the launch was shifted to 4th August. The test launch also tested the new engine that SpaceX will use to power the actual vehicle called the Raptor.
One of the key things that distinguish SpaceX from other aerospace companies is that Elon Musk’s company does not hesitate to test even its basic prototype to failure so that the engineers learn quickly from it, and uses the data collected from the failure.
Over the course of last year, the design for the vehicle was changed, adapted, and transformed many times before settling on a design that resembles that of a stainless silo.
The test flight of the SN5 not only proved that the vehicle could fly but also that the new Raptor engine is capable of thrust-vector control. The test also played out the gravity-operated landing legs of the Starship vehicle as it gently touched down earth again. So far SpaceX’s flights could only be imagined and looked far from being materialized.
However, the “Grasshopper” test vehicles prove the concept of thrust vectoring to guide a first-stage booster back to a launch or landing site. SpaceX began its flight testing as far back as 2012 and so far the company has managed to perform almost 60 successful booster returns so far. With this and so many more improvements, Musk’s dream of interplanetary travel is being realized little by little.
The rate of success for the company itself has also gone up. In the meantime, SpaceX has also showcased the continually improving technology. Time and again SpaceX has proven key elements of their design, and their past record guarantees that the company could only do better.