Morgan Stanley published a research note this week following the first high-altitude test flight of SpaceX’s Starship vehicle. The investment firm describes the test flight of SpaceX’s Starship serial number 8 prototype rocket as “a major leap forward in the U.S. space program” for at least three reasons:
- Progress toward enabling more exploration of the Moon and Mars which it calls the hottest real estate in the solar system
- Demonstrating a flight technique that can enable point-to-point travel from one side of the planet to another in under an hour
- Inching closer to realizing the ability to launch batches of 400 Starlink internet satellites on Starship compared to 60 on Falcon 9
The research note emphasizes that the much broader rollout of SpaceX’s broadband satellites is factored into their valuation of the private space exploration company. SpaceX has already launched an invite-only beta program for its satellite internet service, and more regions will come online through 2021.
SpaceX has also received funding from NASA to develop Starship into a modern human landing system for the space program’s upcoming Artemis missions to the Moon. A version of Starship could be used to transport astronauts from NASA’s Orion spacecraft parked in lunar orbit down to the surface of the Moon.
Despite a fiery conclusion for SN8, Starship serial number 9 is being rolled out to the launch site in Boca Chica as soon as Monday. It’s possible we could see SpaceX attempt a rapid turnaround with its prototype vehicle before the end of the year. Based on the performance of SN8, it’s entirely possible SN9 could stick the landing using data learned from its predecessor.
Miss the test flight? View Space Explored’s coverage from 5 miles away in South Texas:
- SpaceX Starship: SN8 aced launch and bellyflop maneuver; landing explosive, data collected
- SpaceX in Texas: Starship SN8 awaits first high-altitude flight test this week [Gallery]