Sure, its fun when things go bang, and sometimes we plan it that way. However, no such sky explosions were in the works for this year’s 420, even if a huge one happened anyway. Luckily, no one was hurt when a SpaceX rocket exploded a few minutes after takeoff in Boca Chica, Texas; but it sure does give us a 420 to remember!
SpaceX gives us an explosive 420
If it sounds like I’m not taking this seriously enough, I promise I am. But as a massive silver lining to the unexpected events of this morning, no one got hurt. As far as rockets exploding in the sky, we can be thankful this isn’t a redo of the Challenger. Plus, in many ways, the launch was considered a great success.
The rocket SpaceX launched earlier this morning, was the biggest ever to get launched upward. And it was specifically scheduled on the holiest of holy days for weed smokers, 420; as SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk has a particular interest in this holiday. Okay, that’s not true, but it was specifically rescheduled to 420 when a Monday launch was unable to take off due to pressure valve issues.
Okay, that’s not true either. But it was very much appreciated by Musk that his team had the rocket ready to go in tandem with the smoking holiday. There were concerns in the minutes before takeoff as to whether it would happen at all, but the rocket indeed made it into the air.
The mega-rocket in question, named ‘Starship’, flew off from a launch pad in Boca Chica, Texas, right around 9:30am ET. Starship has the designation of being the largest, longest, and as-of-yet most powerful rocket to take to the air, even if it didn’t last long once up there. It was reported to have lifted off with a record-breaking level of thrust. This whole thing was a test-flight of the larger-than-usual rocket, with simply a desire to see how far the sucker could go.
The rocket launched as it was supposed to, passed the launch tower, and got through the MaxQ point, in which the rocket experiences the maximum dynamic pressure: what with gravity, thrust, and atmospheric drag all pulling at it. But up it continued to go. And all looked good until right before it hit the four minute mark.
At this point it started showing weird behavior for a rocket. It’s assumed the ensuing explosion was actually the result of a self-destruct command via SpaceX’s ground control team. The explosion happened right before the stage separation phase, when the rocket separates into different parts.
How well did Starship do?
How far did it get in its inaugural flight? It had reached about 37 miles above the Gulf of Mexico before it began to stop acting normal. The rocket failed to cross the Kármán line which designates the atmosphere from space, and which is reached at 62 miles above sea level. So the rocket did not make it into space. The two elements used for Starship, prototype 27 and Super Heavy booster 7 prototype, both got destroyed.
If that sounds like a complete letdown, it wasn’t. SpaceX had hoped the upper stage would make it to Hawaii, and crash somewhere in the Pacific. The booster was expected to fall somewhere in the Gulf of Mexico. It wasn’t meant to circle the earth, or make it to the moon. But it was expected to last about 30 minutes in the air, and only made it four minutes.
However, since the rocket wasn’t intended to go further than this in its first crack at flying, it wasn’t considered a failure of any kind, and is more than anything, a learning experience for the company. The machine had never lifted off from anywhere prior to today, making it a first in history for something of this size to launch into the atmosphere.
There’s a lot involved with getting a rocket built, space-ready, and then actually into space. Especially when dealing with bigger models like this for which there is no previous history. That the rocket cleared the Boca Chica launch tower was considered an achievement by the SpaceX team; who had no hard expectations for how much more it might accomplish.
Plus, though unplanned-for problems resulted in an explosive 420 for all of us, it also helped SpaceX engineers identify problems that must be attended to in order to get the rocket in real working order. This was a test mission, after all, meant to figure out next steps in creating this rocket as a workable system.
What is Starship intended for?
This larger-than-usual rocket wasn’t made big for nothing. It has high expectations attached to it. The Starship rocket is meant to move both crews and cargo, to as close as within the Earth’s orbit, and as far as the Moon, or even Mars. Musk has been planning for some time to create living situations on Mars and the vehicles to get everything there. The Starship is an example of his progress toward this goal.
The rocket is also designed to be reusable. So not only is it not meant to be a one-off, but it’s representative of general progression in the field of space aviation. For this reason (among others) NASA is quite interested in this particular rocket, as it has hopes to use this technology in the future for its own purposes; particularly in the transport of crews to the moon’s surface for Artemis missions (coming soon).
In terms of Musk and his desire to get people to Mars, you can read about it on SpaceX’s site, called Mars & Beyond: The road to making humanity multiplanetary. As per Musk’s words on the site: “You want to wake up in the morning and think the future is going to be great – and that’s what being a spacefaring civilization is all about. It’s about believing in the future and thinking that the future will be better than the past. And I can’t think of anything more exciting than going out there and being among the stars.”
Mars was chosen as the primary destination, as it’s the closest plant to Earth, and still gets enough sunlight to be technically inhabitable, but not without being pretty cold. The site explains “Its atmosphere is primarily CO2 with some nitrogen and argon and a few other trace elements, which means that we can grow plants on Mars just by compressing the atmosphere.” And that “Gravity on Mars is about 38% of that of Earth, so you would be able to lift heavy things and bound around.”
However, just to be clear for those interested, this isn’t the kind of flight you can change your mind on, as there isn’t going to be another flight you can catch in the opposite direction. Getting to Mars takes traveling through space for six months.
And considering that, it will come with a large price tag. Though there’s no exact price set just yet (SpaceX has tons of work to do before that part can realistically be considered), Musk has said before that he expects it to be around $100K for a ticket. Better start saving now if you want to try out interplanetary life in the future!
SpaceX sure helped us have an explosive 420 this year, and luckily, its not the kind of explosion that leaves people crying. New records were set, a successful launch happened, and a lot of information was put out there for the SpaceX team. Altogether, the whole thing was considered a win, and it certainly gave us stoners something interesting to watch in celebration.
For anyone who’s interested in possible space travel, but concerned about the ability to smoke in space; check out this article for a low down on the possibility of getting a true out-of-this-world high.
Happy 420! Head to our Cannadelics Weekly Newsletter for all email updates; and for some awesome deals on weed flowers, vapes and smoking devices, edibles, cannabinoids, amanita mushroom products, and a boat-load more. Celebrate 420 by feeling good!
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