Elon Musk, the CEO of SpaceX, is already planning another launch less than 48 hours after landing a version of his next-generation Starship spacecraft for the first time.
Starship prototype’s flight did not end in an explosion for the first time. Elon Musk has now hinted that there might be a sequel.
The SN15 made history when it safely landed on the Boca Chica, Texas, landing pad after a fruitful cruise at an altitude of 10 kilometers.
Following a series of attempts that all ended in spectacular explosions during the landing process, SpaceX successfully flew SN15, a modified prototype of its future Mars rocket, on Wednesday.
Musk tweeted in the early hours of Friday morning, “Might try to refly SN15 soon.”
It’s never clear what Musk means when he says “soon.” We’ve had to wait about a month between Starship test flights in the past.
Given that SN15 was the first to survive a flight, an encore could be possible in a slightly shorter time frame.
Anyone hoping for another test flight of the prototype spacecraft should take Musk’s words with a grain of salt. Musk has promised things in the past that he hasn’t delivered on.
SpaceX typically waits around a month between Starship concept test flights. Since this is the first prototype that hasn’t exploded or crashed, SpaceX may be looking to shorten its timeline.
Last week, the FAA has provided the green light for SN15, SN16, and SN17 to perform test flights. It’s unclear how this relates to a possible SN15 re-flight.
SpaceX has been very busy recently. Aside from the successful Starship SN15 test flight and landing.
The company has also recently returned astronauts aboard Crew Dragon from the International Space Station to Earth. Those astronauts splashed down in the dead of night with no problems.
Starship’s early three-engine version soared to a height of around 6.2 miles (10 kilometers), then did a brief single-engine hover before flipping horizontal and coasting to the landing pad.
It then lit up again, flipped to vertical, and landed softly and gracefully, thanks to a landing burn from only two of its Raptor engines.
“The past few weeks have been full of accomplishments by the SpaceX team,” said SpaceX engineer and commentator John Insprucker on the SpaceX livestream. “An outstanding period as we work to enable the future of human spaceflight.”
Additional Starlink satellites for SpaceX’s satellite-based broadband Internet service were recently deployed. It’s understandable that a program as ambitious as the Starship program will experience some setbacks and failures. SN15 was supposed to get a lot of upgrades, according to SpaceX.
Surprisingly, the company bypassed the SN12, SN13, and SN14 designs, which were never finished. Changes to SN15 were made to fix problems the spacecraft had with landings, and they seem to have succeeded in the end.
SN15, according to Musk, has “has hundreds of design improvements across structures, avionics/software and engine,” including, it seems, updates to address some of the issues that prevented SpaceX from landing without a hasty disassembly.