The Starship SN5 prototype has fully passed the first fire tests. It was the first successful firing of the rocket since the beginning of May: the first fire test was carried out by the prototype SN4, however, exploded during the second test in late May. In the near future, SpaceX also plans to make a 150-meter SN5, Elon Musk tweeted.
Starship is a next-generation rocket that will reuse not only the first stage, but also the second – with an integrated ship. The system will allow more than a hundred tons of cargo to be put into orbit, after which it can be refuelled by a tanker – a modified version of the second stage. In addition to the large withdrawn mass, SpaceX promises a low launch price for the rocket (several times less than that of modern Falcon 9s), and NASA has already chosen a modified version of the system for delivering cargo and astronauts to the Moon. Elon Musk’s main goal is to send people to Mars in 2024.
The development of Starship is with varying success, passed tests alternated by explosions. In early May, the previous SN4 prototype underwent a fire test before exploding after a second attempt at the end of the same month. The use of methane as a fuel adds to the complexity of the development: not a single serial rocket has ever flown on it.
On the night of July 31, SpaceX successfully carried out a full SN5. Elon Musk also announced a 150-meter test flight similar to the one made by Starhopper a year ago, a simplified version of the system.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 30, 2020
SpaceX plans to accelerate work on Starship by reassigning freed engineers to the project following the successful Crew Dragon Spacecraft Mission to the ISS. In addition, the company recently set a record for the fastest reuse of the first stage of the Falcon 9 by launching it again 51 days after landing.