SpaceX’s Starship: Why is it a Success despite blowing-up?
SpaceX, the private space company founded by entrepreneur Elon Musk, made history on April 20, 2023, when it launched its first fully integrated Starship rocket from its Starbase facility in Boca Chica, Texas. Starship is the most powerful rocket ever built, capable of carrying up to 100 people and 100 tons of cargo to the Moon, Mars and beyond. But the launch did not go as planned. The rocket exploded in mid-air just minutes after liftoff, ending the test flight in a fiery ball of debris. Spacex gracefully called it an “unscheduled rapid disassembly”.
More often than not, humanity needs to be reminded that “Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising-up every time we fall.”
According to SpaceX, the rocket experienced multiple engine failures during the ascent, causing it to lose altitude and tumble out of control. The flight termination system was activated on both the booster and the ship, triggering a controlled explosion to prevent further damage or risk to nearby areas. The rocket reached a maximum altitude of about 24 miles (39 kilometres), far short of its intended orbit.
The explosion was not entirely unexpected. SpaceX had warned that the launch was a high-risk test and that failure was likely. Musk himself had said that there was a good chance that the launch would be postponed or aborted due to various technical or weather issues. He also said that the main goal of the test was to gather data and learn from the experience.
Why is Starship important?
SpaceX sees Starship as a game-changer for space exploration and colonisation. Starship is designed to be fully reusable, meaning that both stages of the rocket can land back on Earth and be flown again. This would drastically reduce the cost and increase the frequency of space launches, making them more accessible and affordable for various purposes.
Starship is also envisioned to be a versatile vehicle that can perform a variety of missions, such as launching satellites, transporting cargo and crew, landing on the Moon and Mars, and even travelling to other planets and asteroids. Musk has said that Starship is essential for his ultimate goal of making humanity a multiplanetary species and ensuring its survival in case of a catastrophe on Earth.
For SpaceX, the story of Starship has hardly begun. The company has several other prototypes in production and plans to conduct more test flights in the future. It also has ambitious plans to use Starship for various projects, such as sending NASA astronauts to the Moon in 2024, launching a private lunar mission for Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa in 2025, and sending the first humans to Mars in 2026.
SpaceX’s Starship launch is a step forward in the company’s quest to revolutionise space travel and exploration. As Musk said after the launch: “To get this far is amazing.”
Everything in this universe goes through a process like this. It is near impossible to perfect any complex task in the first go. It is through tons of experiments, trials and errors that we learn. It is not without a reason that there exists an old proverb which says failure is the stepping stone to success. We need to fall down, get up, learn from our mistakes and improve. Next time, fail better!
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