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SpaceX’s Starship landing

Topics Covered: Awareness in space.

SpaceX’s Starship landing:


Context:

Serial number 15 (SN15), a prototype of the futuristic Starship rocket developed by Elon Musk’s SpaceX company, was able to launch and successfully land on Wednesday, heralding a new era in space exploration for NASA.

Background:

The latest successful landing is a relief for NASA and SpaceX, as four previous prototypes of Starship had failed to do so, getting destroyed during or soon after touchdown at the southeastern tip of Texas, near Brownsville.

What is Starship?

  • It is a full-scale, stainless steel, bullet-shaped rocketship built by SpaceX.
  • The spacecraft has been described as a game-changer for space travel, being a fully reusable transportation system for crew and cargo to the Earth’s orbit, Moon and Mars.
  • SpaceX has described Starship as “the world’s most powerful launch vehicle” with an ability to carry over 100 metric tonnes to the Earth’s orbit.

Significance of the latest development:

Reusability is at the heart of making interplanetary travel accessible, SpaceX believes, since a majority of the launch cost is attributed to the expense of building a rocket that is ultimately designed to burn up during re-entry.

Potential Applications:

  • Starship can deliver satellites further and at lower marginal costs than Falcon vehicles and it can ferry both cargo and crew to the International Space Station (ISS).
  • Once developed, Starship is also expected to help carry large amounts of cargo to the Moon, for human spaceflight development and research.
  • Beyond the Moon, the spacecraft is being designed for carrying crew and cargo for interplanetary missions as well.

NASA’s Artemis mission:

  • Last month, NASA chose SpaceX to build a lander for its Artemis programme, which plans to send humans to the Moon in this decade.
  • The vehicle, which is based on Starship, will carry the next man and the first woman to land on the Moon.
  • With the Artemis programme, NASA aims to demonstrate new technologies, capabilities and business approaches that will ultimately be needed for the future exploration of Mars.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. About Artemis space mission.
  2. Objectives.
  3. About Starship.
  4. Important interplanetary space missions.

Sources: Indian Express.