Trips to Mars could happen soon after successful SpaceX rocket test

Pablo Tucker
August 8, 2020

The flight came two days after SpaceX brought USA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley safely home from the International Space Station aboard the company's Crew Dragon space capsule, and five days after a successful static-fire test of SN5's single Raptor engine at Boca Chica.

The astronauts had traveled in the Dragon capsule developed by SpaceX.

"Mars is looking real", Musk tweeted shortly after the flight of roughly 492 feet, or 150 meters, into the air, later adding: "Progress is accelerating".

A far cry from the rocket's expected final form, the SN5 prototype features only one Raptor engine (versus the six that will take it into space), as well as a weighted block on its head in place of a proper nose cone.

"And when the smoke cleared, she stood there majestically, immediately after the 150 meter flight!" tweeted NASA's major scientist, Thomas Zurbuchen.

The private company plans to launch reusable Starships atop still-in-the-works rockets, carrying cargo or crew not only to low-Earth orbit but also the moon and Musk's most desirable destination, Mars.

The current Starship prototype is fairly crude: it's a large metallic cylinder, built in a few weeks by SpaceX teams on the Texas coast, in Boca Chica, but it's still smaller than the actual rocket will be.

An earlier "hop" launch for the Starship was aborted on Tuesday moments before the successful launch.

SpaceX will hope that its Starship program can follow a similar path.

The previous Starship prototype, SN4, which is about two times as high as ...

Starship is the company's next-level rocket.

By continuously ferrying people the 180 million miles to Mars, Musk is predicting 1,000 human inhabitants by 2030 and "maybe around" one million by 2050. According to Elon Musk, the next steps include several more short hops before going "high altitude" with body flaps attached. Want to know more about the latest updates of Elon Musk's space adventure?

Among its achievements are the fact it launched and returned the first astronauts for the International Space Station from United States soil in almost a decade.

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