‘Starship Landing Nominal!’ SpaceX CEO Elon Musk Celebrates After Mars Rocket Prototype Lands Successfully
SpaceX owner and Tesla CEO Elon Musk poses as he arrives on the red carpet for the Axel Springer Awards ceremony, in Berlin, on December 1, 2020.

On Wednesday, SpaceX launched and successfully landed an early Mars rocket prototype at its facility in South Texas. SpaceX and Tesla CEO, Elon Musk, announced the rocket’s first successful landing on Twitter, writing “Starship landing nominal!”

The vehicle, known as SN15, is the fifth of SpaceX’s rocket prototypes to attempt a landing, and the first to achieve one successfully. After launch, the rocket traveled around six miles above the surface of the Earth. SpaceX then put the rocket “through a series of aerial acrobatics before re-lighting two of its engines and landing it upright back on a landing pad,” according to CNN.

SN15 is an early version of Starship, which Musk predicts will be the first to carry humans to Mars.

“The vehicle has several improvements over its predecessors, according to SpaceX. They include upgrades to its hardware, communication and navigation systems, software and its massive engines, which are called Raptor engines,” added CNN.

SpaceX shared a live feed of SN15’s successful flight test on Twitter. After the four-minute mark, SN15 launches. Six minutes later, the rocket can be seen landing safely.

“On Wednesday, May 5, Starship serial number 15 (SN15) successfully completed SpaceX’s fifth high-altitude flight test of a Starship prototype from Starbase in Texas,” wrote SpaceX on their website.

“Similar to previous high-altitude flight tests of Starship, SN15 was powered through ascent by three Raptor engines, each shutting down in sequence prior to the vehicle reaching apogee – approximately 10 km in altitude. SN15 performed a propellant transition to the internal header tanks, which hold landing propellant, before reorienting itself for reentry and a controlled aerodynamic descent,” they continued.

“The Starship prototype descended under active aerodynamic control, accomplished by independent movement of two forward and two aft flaps on the vehicle. All four flaps were actuated by an onboard flight computer to control Starship’s attitude during flight and enabled precise landing at the intended location,” SpaceX added. “SN15’s Raptor engines reignited as the vehicle performed the landing flip maneuver immediately before touching down for a nominal landing on the pad.”

“These test flights of Starship are all about improving our understanding and development of a fully reusable transportation system designed to carry both crew and cargo on long-duration interplanetary flights, and help humanity return to the Moon, and travel to Mars and beyond,” the post concluded. “Congratulations to the entire SpaceX team on SN15’s successful flight and landing!”

“The Starship has landed,” John Insprucker, SpaceX principal integration engineer, said during the live broadcast, according to The Washington Post.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk is also due to host “Saturday Night Live” this coming weekend. NBC announced on April 24 that Musk, 49, would co-host the show with Miley Cyrus, becoming the first non-actor or non-athlete to host the show since Donald Trump in 2015 and prompting Musk to tweet, “Let’s find out just how live ‘Saturday Night Live’ really is.”

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