SpaceX Lands First Successful Starship Flight

SpaceX, a private American space company, has successfully launched and landed its Starship spacecraft from a launch site in Texas. In the three previous attempts the rocket exploded during the landing phase.

The 50-metre tall reusable rocket rose to an altitude of almost 10 km over the Gulf of Mexico, then turned and descended in an upright position back to its launch pad. A small fire after touchdown was quickly put out.

The Starship rocket has three engines and can carry 100 tons of cargo into space. It is scheduled to bring NASA astronauts to the moon in the next few years. The rocket is also part of a more powerful system that will one day bring astronauts to Mars.

The successful mission came on the 60th anniversary of the first American, Alan Shepard, to travel into space.

SpaceX is owned by Elon Musk, an American entrepreneur, who plans to set up an American colony on Mars.

Artist’s drawing of Starship to bring astronauts to the moon
Steve Jurvetson, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Words

  • altitude = how high something goes up
  • anniversary = date on which something important happened years ago
  • attempts = to try to make something work
  • cargo = machines, instruments and other objects
  • descend = to come down
  • entrepreneur = businessman
  • successfully = if something works the way it should
  • launch = here: to send a rocket into space
  • launch pad = place from where a rocket is sent into space
  • launch site = place from where a rocket is sent into space
  • mission = here: flight
  • owned = belongs to
  • previous = earlier
  • reusable = something that you can use over and over again
  • schedule = plan
  • set up = create
  • upright position = vertical; standing up

NASA Announces First Successful Flight On Mars

The first controlled flight of an aircraft on another planet has successfully taken place. The Mars drone Ingenuity lifted off and hovered about 1 meter above the Martian surface for 40 seconds. Because of the distance between the Earth and Mars flight controllers had to wait for three hours to find out if the experiment was successful.

The drone was brought to Mars strapped under NASA’s Perseverance rover. It was positioned 65 meters away from the rover, which took pictures and recorded videos of the flight.

Because the atmosphere on Mars is thin and there is less gravity compared to Earth, Ingenuity’s rotor blades must rotate much faster to lift the craft. In addition, the drone has an on-board navigation system and software which allows it to fly on its own.

The 1.8 kg heavy drone has two cameras on board, as well as solar-powered batteries. NASA intends to use drones on future missions to Mars to find the right landing places and gather data.

During the next few weeks NASA is planning several test flights of the Ingenuity drone.

NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter
Nasa, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Words

  • aircraft= a machine or object that can fly
  • atmosphere = mixture of gases around a planet
  • craft = here: drone
  • drone = an aircraft that does not have a pilot and is operated from somewhere else
  • gather data = collect information
  • gravity = the power that makes something fall to the ground
  • hover = float
  • in addition = also
  • Martian = about Mars
  • mission = trip, journey
  • position = to put in a certain place
  • rotate = to move around an object’s center
  • rotor blades = the flat parts that turn around at the top of a helicopter
  • rover = special car that is used to move on other planets
  • several = a few
  • solar = by the sun
  • strap = to use a band to fasten something to an object
  • surface = the top part of a planet