This journey reached a crescendo on November 18, 2023, as I stood at SpaceX's Starbase in Texas, witnessing a pivotal moment in human history – the launch of Starship SN25. It was a clear testament: the Space Age is finally here, and the railroad to space is almost open for business.
Starship SN25: Ushering in the New Space Age
The SpaceX Starship program represents a cornerstone in the new Space Age. Designed as the first fully reusable spacecraft, the Starship will redefine interplanetary travel, carrying humans and cargo to Mars and beyond. This launch of Starship SN25, atop its Super Heavy Booster 9, was a bold declaration of humanity's readiness to embrace the cosmos as our next frontier.
The Launch: A Symphony of Engineering and Ambition
The launch preparations, buzzing with a palpable energy, were a prelude to an extraordinary event. We saw the engines ignite, and then 16 seconds later, their roar engulfed us, akin to a machine gun's rapid, rhythmic firing, but on a vast scale. The flawless functioning of all 33 engines, perfectly tuned to create a 1,000-foot plume, was a remarkable feat, showcasing SpaceX's mastery in engineering.
A Milestone in Space Travel
The 33 engines on the booster all lit perfectly; this time, the launch pad took minimal to no damage. A clean launch was a significant success for Starship, considering the first test flight on April 20, 2023, destroyed the launch pad. SpaceX took almost six months to redesign the launch mount, adding a water deluge system and new blast ramps. Their efforts paid off, and the launch pad should be ready to launch again shortly.
Another crucial moment in the launch was the successful hot stage separation at T+2:50, occurring at 70 km altitude. This feat, a first for SpaceX, marked a significant milestone for Starship. The large, mighty Raptor vacuum engines are designed solely for the vacuum of space. SpaceX can't test these engines on Earth, so the successful lighting of these engines in space during the test reinforces the idea that the railroad to space was not just a dream but a burgeoning reality.
Starship's Journey and Controlled End
Ascending 148 km, SN25 was a spectacle in the sky, glowing like a small triangular sun; even from such a great distance, it stood out. However, its journey was deliberately ended at T+8:04, following the activation of the flight termination system (a bomb strapped to the side of the rocket), a necessary step in the grand scheme of space exploration.
Portugal and the Global Space Exploration Endeavor
This launch echoed Portugal's growing aspirations in space exploration, particularly with the prospective spaceport in the Azores. The successes and lessons of the Starship program are invaluable to nations venturing into space, marking a new era where the celestial realms are no longer out of reach.
From UAPs to Interplanetary Travel
My interest in UAPs has always been part of a more significant fascination with space. The mysteries that UAPs present are a constant reminder of space's vast, uncharted territories. The Starship program, spearheading humanity's journey to other planets, offers potential answers to these enduring mysteries.
Embracing the New Space Age
The controlled conclusion of Starship SN25's mission is pivotal in the challenging space exploration journey. It symbolizes the breaking of boundaries and the realization of dreams once deemed impossible. For Portugal, participating in this new Space Age opens up a realm of scientific discovery and a chance to contribute to humanity's understanding of the universe.
In Conclusion: Witnessing the Birth of the Space Age
The experience at Starbase, watching the launch of Starship SN25, was a profound affirmation of the dawn of the Space Age. As a retired USAF pilot who has transitioned from the adrenaline-fueled world of aviation to the enigmatic and boundless cosmos, this experience reconfirmed the endless possibilities that await us in space exploration. Like many other nations, Portugal stands on the cusp of this new era, ready to embrace the railroad to space and journey into the vast unknown.
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