From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : SN5 Starship
Mains level : Commercial crew programme by SpaceX
SpaceX has successfully test-launched its “Mars ship”, a stainless steel test vehicle called SN5, and which is a part of the Starship spacecraft.
Elon Musk’s aerospace company has been putting continuous wins on the board ever since it became the first privately funded group to put a payload in Earth orbit.
What is Starship?
- Designed by SpaceX, Starship is a spacecraft and super-heavy booster rocket meant to act as a 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.
- Starship has been under development since 2012 and is a part of Space X’s central mission to make interplanetary travel accessible and affordable and to become the first private company to do so.
So what all can Starship do?
- SpaceX is planning its first cargo mission to the red planet by 2022 and by 2024, the company wants to fly four ships including two cargo and two crewed ones to Mars.
- Once functional, the Starship spacecraft will enter Mars’ atmosphere at a speed of 7.5 km per second and will be designed to withstand multiple entries.
- 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.
A quest for reusability
- Therefore, the company is working on building a fleet of reusable launch vehicles, capable of carrying humans to Mars and other destinations in the solar system.
- Reusability is at the heart of making interplanetary travel accessible.