Elon Musk is obsessed with turning humans into a multi-planet species, but for that he needs thousands of spaceships, so part of SpaceX is in Boca Chica, Texas, setting up a stainless steel rocket factory (rudimentary, but very cheap) while the rest of the company sends astronauts from NASA to the International Space Station and fill the sky with satellites to offer internet coverage in the most remote places.
The good news for Musk and his ambitious plan is that, after one, From, three, four consecutive Starship prototypes that ended up imploding or exploding violently Without flying, the fifth prototype, named Starship SN5, has started its Raptor engine, has risen 150 meters, has spread its legs and landed in one piece on the flight platform, successfully completing its first “jump” :
It’s the first low-altitude flight to make a full-size Starship prototype (although it’s actually missing the wings and cone, which has been replaced by a test load atop the tank), but not the first flight that It has taken place in Boca Chica. A year ago the first and last time the Starhopper took off, a test model the size of a water tank.
Both flights have demonstrated the feasibility of the Raptor, the first rocket engine with a full-flow staged combustion cycle. The Raptors of the Starship burn methane and liquid oxygen, while the Merlin of the Falcon 9 use RP-1 kerosene and and liquid oxygen. Although this prototype has a single engine, the following will mount three Raptors to make jumps of several kilometers and even a first suborbital flight. The final version of the Starship will have six engines (three thrust at sea level and three thrust in a vacuum), plus another 37 in the first stage, known as Super Heavy.
You can read more about the Starship at this article. In short, it is a hybrid between a rocket and a spaceship made from welded stainless steel coils. The different prototypes have been perfected not only by the manufacturing techniques employed by the SpaceX team in the Boca Chica outdoor facilities, but also by the steel alloys they use.
Musk says colonizing Mars will require building a Starship every 72 hours, making the rocket factory and its production to scale an even bigger challenge than Starship itself. There is still a long way to go.