Measuring 50 meters long, weighing in at 120 tons and equipped with six engines – three fixed and three movable – Starship is nothing if not ambitious.
Designed to carry cargo and astronauts all the way to Mars, this next-generation spacecraft is the real deal and could see the first humans set foot on the Red Planet in the not-too-distant future.
Before then, however, it will need to achieve several other milestones ranging from reaching Earth’s orbit all the way to traveling to – and landing on – the surface of Mars.
To this end, SpaceX has spent the last few months launching a succession of prototypes several miles into the air with the goal of maneuvering them into position to land safely again on the ground.
While the team appears to have (mostly) mastered the landing part – avoiding a catastrophic explosion after the rocket has touched down on the landing pad has proven rather more problematic.
Even with this latest test flight, a small fire broke out underneath the rocket after it had landed.
Eventually, once these kinks have been ironed out, Starship will be combined with a SpaceX Super Heavy rocket to produce the most powerful launch platform ever built.
Once that happens, a manned mission to Mars will seem like a much more realistic prospect.