Something amazing happened this year. Well, at least for the people who are actively following Space X’s progress of achieving something utterly impossible. While it may not seem much from a neutral perspective but it was a big thing for space enthusiasts as Space X’s SN5 Starship prototype took 500 feet (150 meters) hop in the sky before calmly returning to the ground.
About the Prototype
It was a test article with the name SN5 prototype. It is approximately 98 feet (30 meters) in length and 30 feet in width. It is a primitive version of what the final SpaceX Starship will look like. It has a fuel tank and a single raptor engine topped with a mass that resembles a payload.
From the proximity, you can imagine it as a nine-story tall building flying in the sky. In the video shared by SpaceX on Twitter, it looks like a floating tin can similar to what a thermos looks like in our homes.
It is regarded as a big achievement because previous prototypes failed to impress as they were unsuccessful in pressurization tests. Not even a single one before SN5 was able to lift itself above the ground level.
The Significance of the Hop
Imagine someone who is learning how to fly. At the first stage, what do you think they will learn?
How to take a leap?
The Starship is learning how to fly, but first, it will have to learn how to take a leap. The SN5 has been designed for orbital flight, but at the first stage, it had to complete this tiny hop which it did successfully.
The Challenges Ahead
During the test at Boca Chica, when the engine was first ignited, it looked as if SN5 would fail similar to the previous prototypes after it struggled to be airborne. However, it did finally lift itself, leaving behind its own white smoke. Without any tragedy, it then came back for a smooth landing.
Elon Musk will be excited, but he knows the journey is long. Landing humans on Mars is not easy. One hundred fifty feet versus 35 million miles. All of us can do that math.
There are other challenges and tests that SN5 would have to pass. The most critical part of the journey, as told by experts, is the dropping down on the surface of Mars. It refers to the way Starship would react when it descends towards the Mars atmosphere, which is 100 times thinner than earth and contains 95 percent carbon dioxide.
The question that skeptics ask is how humans can sustain for a long time on a different planet with limited resources and toxic materials all around them? It is another major Achilles Heel for this project that Space X needs to answer in the coming years.
Landing on Mars will not only be the biggest achievement in human history after the moon landing, but it will also pave the way for the next big step in deep space flight. It is expected that Elon Musk will inspire countless generations to come.
Source-Elon Musk’s Big Dream