CAMBRIDGE: Private company SpaceX launched SN8, a prototype of its Starship spacecraft, designed to go to the Moon and Mars, on Dec 10. Its short flight attracted a great deal of attention for its final few seconds before landing – when it exploded. But consider the near perfect totality of its six-and-a-half-minute flight. Look at the groundbreaking technology and manoeuvres involved. It is reasonable to view this as a hugely successful test. Ordinary spacecraft return to Earth by using the "aerodynamic drag" in the atmosphere to slow their re-entry. Decelerating from 20,000 miles per hour dissipates a lot of heat which is why they carry heat shields, and the final touchdown is controlled by parachutes. READ: Singapore's foray into space: Boldly going where no little red dot has gone before READ: Jokowi invites Elon Musk to consider Indonesia as SpaceX launch site The actual rocket engines don't make a safe landing – they burn up and crash into the sea. This is a real waste of resources. SpaceX's founder and CEO Elon Musk is instead trying to reuse as much of the spacecraft as possible. If your ultimate destination is the Moon and onward to Mars, this makes a lot… Read full this story
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