General, Research, Technology

Mars flight canceled: Starship crashed on landing

SpaceX, as planned, conducted flight tests of the upper stage of its spacecraft on December 10 Starshipwhich the company subsequently wantsused to transport people to Mars. The prototype, codenamed SN8, was able to take off 12 kilometers, began to land vertically, like all SpaceX rockets, but the rocket did not have time to slow down and crashed, destroying the landing platform. Presumably, the incident occurred due to the failure of one of the engines. Are Elon Musk's dreams of conquering other planets not yet destined to come true?

The sight was spectacular

There was no one on board the huge rocket.It was an experimental version of the Starship's upper stage, a 50-meter-high spacecraft that Musk hopes will be used to launch massive satellites into Earth orbit, transport people between cities at incredible speeds, and ultimately help establish human colonies on Mars. This was the Starship's first flight to such an altitude, and in fact, the spectacular explosion of smoke and flame did not come as a surprise to SpaceX. But it all looked really cool, just look!

This is not a bug - the ship is deliberately tilted so as to be less aerodynamic and slow down

Previously, SpaceX tried twice this weekmake a Starship test flight, but both attempts were halted when only a few seconds were left on the countdown clock. It was unclear why SpaceX stopped these launches, although last-minute cancellations are not uncommon, even during routine rocket launches. For example, this year, Crew Dragon's first attempt to deliver astronauts to the ISS was similarly canceled due to bad weather. Computers or flight controllers could pick up abnormal rocket status data and stop the engines from igniting.

SpaceX is far from making it workspaceship Starship. Various prototypes have been constructed so far and have been used to test how well a rocket's material works under pressure, as well as to conduct suborbital "jump tests," which tested how the rocket's giant engines could steer vehicles for precision landings. All of this is needed to rebuild and reuse vehicles, as well as to make a guided landing on the Moon or Mars one day, Musk said.

Starship Challenges

Starship climbed during the previous test.only 150 meters and used one engine. The SN8 vehicle, which was used on SpaceX Starship's current test flight, was the first to have three engines at once.

At the same time, the SN8 rocket still cannotreach Earth's orbit on your own. It would take six rocket engines to complete the starship, and even so, the vehicle needs a separate giant rocket booster, dubbed Super Heavy, to get the spacecraft into orbit, because that journey would require it to travel at speeds in excess of 23,000 kilometers per hour. It is unclear if SpaceX has begun development or testing of the Super Heavy booster.

To travel to Mars, Starship will eventually need to reach "space speed" - about 40,000 kilometers per hour - this speed is necessary in order to tear the spacecraft away from the Earth's gravitational field and call it to travel to more distant regions of our solar system.

When will humans go to Mars?

Elon Musk originally founded SpaceX because of hisdesires interplanetary travel, stating that he wants to create a rocket that will allow humans to populate the Red Planet. At the same time, SpaceX's plans to build colonies on Mars raise many technological, political and ethical questions. It is unclear, for example, whether Musk plans to work with the governments of the Earth to create a space colony, or whether he intends to create a sovereign state, which could violate existing international treaties that govern human behavior in space. One of the toughest hurdles can also be financial: even Musk has yet to come up with a total cost estimate.

But Starship could have had many otherspractical purposes, closer to home. The spacecraft could launch massive satellites or research telescopes into Earth's orbit, resupply the International Space Station, or perhaps transport people between cities at unprecedented speeds. At a September 2017 launch event, SpaceX stated that Starship "will be able to take people from one city to any other city on Earth in less than an hour." Directly some kind of teleport! But for this the company needs to make sure that the ship does not explode upon landing. Would you dare to fly from Moscow to New York on such a rocket instead of an airplane? Tell us in the comments or in our Telegram chat.