SpaceX Starship prototype explodes in fireball landing during test run

SpaceX Completes Starship SN8's High Altitude Flight Test Crashes on Landing

The test flight was scheduled for their aerodynamic test of the SN8 (Starship No. 8) and its three engines, including when the ship returns to Earth - this happens vertically, on the same nerve as SpaceX's predecessor Falcon 9 rocket.

The Starship was attempting to reach about 41,000 feet in the test, which was also the first flight for SpaceX's newest Raptor engine.

"With a test such as this, success is not measured by completion of specific objectives but rather how much we can learn, which will inform and improve the probability of success in the future as SpaceX rapidly advances the development of Starship", a statement on the company's website said. He said pressure in a fuel tank was low on descent and caused the landing velocity to be too high. "Congratulations SpaceX Team", He tweeted.

Before the test flight, SpaceX cautioned that there will probably be setbacks during the ongoing development of the vehicle.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, however, is still thrilled about the test, stating on Twitter: "Successful ascent, switchover to header tanks & precise flap control to landing point!" It was an early developmental model of Starship, a 160-foot-tall spaceship proposed by Musk that he hopes will be used for hauling massive satellites into Earth's orbit, shuttling people between cities at breakneck speeds and - eventually - establishing a human settlement on Mars.

"Starship will be the world's most powerful launch vehicle ever developed, with the ability to carry in excess of 100 metric tonnes to Earth orbit", the company has maintained.

This test flight was the highest the spacecraft had been launched to date and the launch went smoothly. Its Raptor engine is a reusable methalox staged-combustion engine that powers the Starship launch system.

Musk hopes to be able to one day launch several of these space ships to Mars, though they could prove useful even in the short term as NASA eyes re-establishing an ongoing presence on the Moon in 2024.

Upon reaching its 12.5-kilometre height, the rocket's engines shut down, allowing Starship to fall back towards the ground.

Smaller prototypes have already blasted off several hundred yards (meters) into the air for less than a minute as part of a series of tests aimed at developing the next generation of rockets from the company at lightening speed. When it touched down, however, the rocketship became engulfed in flames and ruptured, parts scattering. It also has an agreement with a Japanese entrepreneur for a private flight around the moon in 2023.

Musk had downplayed the likelihood of complete success going into the test flight, saying last month that the chances of the Starship landing in one piece were only "1/3."

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