In 2020, SpaceX returned America’s ability to fly NASA astronauts to and from the International Space Station on American vehicles for the first time since 2011.
In addition to flying astronauts to space for NASA, SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft can also carry private passengers to Earth orbit, the ISS or beyond..
Per SpaceX: “On Wednesday, December 9, Starship serial number 8 (SN8) lifted off from our Cameron County launch pad and successfully ascended, transitioned propellant, and performed its landing flip maneuver with precise flap control to reach its landing point. Low pressure in the fuel header tank during the landing burn led to high touchdown velocity resulting in a hard (and exciting!) landing.
Thank you to all the locals supporting our efforts in Cameron County and beyond. Congratulations to the entire Starship and SpaceX teams on today’s test! Serial number 9 (SN9) is up next – Mars, here we come!”
Starship will enter Mars’ atmosphere at 7.5 kilometers per second and decelerate aerodynamically. The vehicle’s heat shield is designed to withstand multiple entries, but given that the vehicle is coming into Mars’ atmosphere so hot, we still expect to see some ablation of the heat shield (similar to wear and tear on a brake pad). The engineering video below simulates the physics of Mars entry for Starship.