The sixth full-scale testing prototype of SpaceX’s Starship has successfully completed a key static fire test after suffering setbacks during earlier attempts of previous versions. Taking to Twitter, SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk revealed that a static fire test of the prototype had already been completed and the firm will ‘soon’ perform a test flight of its Mars-bound spacecraft Starship.
Starship SN5 just completed full duration static fire. 150m hop soon.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 30, 2020
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SN5 is the latest version of the Starship developmental craft. All of its prevoius versions—SN1, SN2, SN3, and SN4—were destroyed during testing except for SN2, which was retired in March 2020. 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’s orbit, the Moon, Mars, and beyond. Starship will reportedly be the world’s most powerful launch vehicle ever developed, with the ability to carry in excess of 100 metric tonnes to Earth orbit.
Starship is designed to deliver satellites further and at a lower marginal cost per launch than SpaceX’s current Falcon vehicles. With a payload compartment larger than any fairing currently in operation or development, Starship creates possibilities for new missions, including space telescopes even larger than the James Webb.
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Missions to Mars
Speaking of future human missions to space, the US is not the only country exploring Mars as China and UAE launched their respective missions to the Red Planet. On July 20, the United Arab Emirates successfully launched the Arab world’s first mission to Mars. UAE’s mission to the red planet will be a seven-month journey, where it will orbit and send back data about the Martian atmosphere.
On the other hand, China’s Tianwen-1 which translates to “questions to heaven”, was launched on a Long March 5 rocket this month from Wenchang on Hainan Island. The spacecraft is expected to land on Mars in February 2021 around the same time as NASA’s Perseverance rover and the UAE’ Hope orbiter. Tianwen-1 orbiter is expected to provide scientific communication links to the rover while it will carry out the observation on the dedicated Mars area for 1 year, which is approximately 687 days on the Earth.
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