December 8, 2021

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SpaceX Starship: Key milestones for the world’s most powerful rocket

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SpaceX’s Starship program, which boasts the world’s tallest and most powerful rocket, will eventually put people and cargo on Mars. The latest prototype, SN20, is waiting for the chance to go into orbit. Several other prototypes have made flights, ground tests and sometimes even testing mistakes in the effort to improve future flights. Here’s an overview of key milestones on Starship’s road to the Red Planet.

Video: Every SpaceX Starship explosion and what Elon Musk learned from them

20 years in the making

SpaceX’s Starship SN9 prototype conducted a 6.2-mile-high (10 kilometers) test flight from the company’s South Texas site on Feb. 3, 2021. (Image credit: SpaceX)

Billionaire Elon Musk created SpaceX in 2002 from the sales of two earlier businesses: software-service internet company Zip2 and online payment provider PayPal. His ultimate goal was to create a Mars settlement company. That said, SpaceX has been plenty busy in other realms of space: The company built Dragon cargo ships and Crew Dragon astronaut spaceships for the International Space Station and launched satellites for numerous customers aboard the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets.

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