SpaceX SN15's prototype manned spacecraft Starship has successfully landed after testing. This was the fifth attempt to land a prototype ship. Four previous landings ended in a spaceship explosion.
"Starship landed in nominal mode," said SpaceX CEO Elon Musk.
SN15 was launched from the Boca Chica test site in southeastern Texas. The ship reached an altitude of 10 km and descended to the site. Thus, SpaceX is much closer to its vision of reusable spacecraft that will fly to the ISS, the Moon, around the Earth and beyond.
The Starship prototypes being tested are about 50 meters tall, roughly the height of a 15-story building, and each is propelled by three Raptor rocket engines. The SN15 differs from previous versions of the rocket, according to SpaceX's website, in "improved design, avionics and software." According to the available data, in addition to software changes, the engineers changed the fuel line routing and used Raptor engines with a new design and configuration.
In a manned version, Starship will be able to take on board up to 100 people. SpaceX founder Elon Musk expects the spacecraft to be able to land humans on Mars in 2026.