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

China Launches First Module of Space Station

China has successfully launched the first module of its space station, called Tianhe or Heavenly Harmony, from the island of Hainan. The module contains the living quarters for crew members.

After 10 missions to deliver parts to low Earth orbit, China’s space station is expected to be fully operational by 2022. It will be used for scientific and medical experiments. 12 astronauts are currently training to live in space for a longer period of time.

China’s space station will not be as large as the International Space Station ISS, but similar to the Russian Mir space station which was in operation between 1986 and 2001.

The construction of its own space station is seen as a further step in China’s ambitious billion-dollar space program. The first satellite was launched in 1970 and the first manned mission was carried out in 2003. Recently a lunar probe has brought back the first samples from the moon since the 1970s.

Illustration of the Chinese Space Station and its modules
Saggittarius A, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Words

  • ambitious = if you really want to be successful in doing something
  • currently = at the moment
  • deliver = bring
  • further = another
  • launch = here: to start a rocket into space
  • living quarters = rooms where the astronauts live
  • lunar probe= unmanned spaceship that landed on the moon
  • manned mission = space flight where people are on board
  • module = part
  • operational = working and ready to be used
  • orbit = to move around a planet
  • recently = a short time ago
  • samples = here : rocks from the moon
  • satellite = object that is sent to space and moves around the Earth, moon or other planet
  • similar = like