SPACEX launched and landed its futuristic Starship on May 5, finally nailing a test flight of the rocket ship that Elon Musk intends to use to land astronauts on the moon and send people to Mars.
The previous four test flights ended in fiery explosions.
The Starship SN15 landing in Texas on May 5, 2021[/caption]
What does ‘starship landing nominal’ mean?
Musk, who founded SpaceX, celebrated the successful launch with a tweet.
“Starship landing nominal!” the billionaire tweeted.
The comment has been liked hundreds of thousands of times, and had 22,000 retweets in the hours after it was posted.
The Starship Serial Number 15 rocket prototype is the first of its kind that has not blown to pieces after a high-altitude test.
SN15 reached six miles into the sky, hovered for a moment, and performed what Musk refers to as a “belly flop” before touching back down in Texas.
Flames did briefly emerge from the base of the rocket during the landing.
John Insprucker, a SpaceX engineer, said that was due to the fuel used by the rocket.
The successful launch came on the 60th anniversary of the flight of first American in space, Alan Shepard.
Earlier this year Nasa chose SpaceX’s Starship to deliver astronauts to the lunar surface in the next few years.
However, the $3billion contract was halted after the losing companies – Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin and Dynetics – protested the selection.
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Musk – who is hosting Saturday Night Live on May 8 – said last month that the Nasa money will help the development of Starship, which is meant to eventually launch atop a Super Heavy booster.
He said it’s been a “pretty expensive” project so far and mostly funded internally.
“As you can tell, if you’ve been watching the videos, we’ve blown up a few of them. So excitement guaranteed, one way or another,” Musk said after the private company’s second crew flight on April 23.