The first high-altitude test flight of SpaceX’s Starship rocket seemed to have a successful end until the last few seconds. However, the unmanned SN8 prototype turned into a huge fireball upon landing.
A prototype of a gigantic aircraft with which the private aerospace company SpaceX intends to take the first humans to Mars exploded on Wednesday during a test landing in Texas.
The destroyed rocket was a nearly 50 meter long model known as a Starship that will ideally also carry up to 100 tons of cargo into space.
The unmanned spacecraft took off from SpaceX’s base in Boca Chica (Texas) and ascended about 12 kilometers powered by three Raptor-type engines before returning to the starting point, where it was supposed to land. However, upon landing the ship exploded creating a large fireball.
The owner of SpaceX, billionaire Elon Musk, explained in a tweet that during the descent “the pressure in the rocket’s fuel tank was low”, which caused “the landing speed to be high.”
He also said that SpaceX obtained “all the necessary information” from this test flight. Also, after the explosion, Musk tweeted: “Mars, here we go!”
The aerospace company is known for an aggressive strategy of rapidly advancing its aircraft development and learning from mistakes, which has led to several explosions on its test flights.
In recent times, SpaceX has won succulent contracts with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to carry out missions to resupply supplies and research equipment to the International Space Station (ISS).
The most recent arrived this past Monday with a Dragon capsule that was the first to automatically dock to the ISS. Also, in November SpaceX successfully sent its first manned operational mission to the ISS.