Texas: Elon Musk’s ambitious space exploration starship exploded on Wednesday a brief time later after its first seemingly successful landing and was engulfed by fire.
Space Exploration Technologies Corp.’s newest and biggest rocket, the Starship SN-10 prototype on Wednesday lifted off from SpaceX’s seaside launch pad at about 5:15 p.m. in Boca Chica, Texas, as per a live video stream on SpaceX’s website. The rocket then flew to an altitude of about 10 kilometers (around 6 miles) before turning its engines back on and settling on the landing pad with a slight lean.
Shortly after that, the rocket exploded and flames engulfed the million dollar starship, possibly after a fire ignited fuel.
Until that point, the rocket appeared to achieve a key milestone with its first stable landing in three attempts. After its ascent, Starship shut off its three Raptor engines and performed a controlled “belly flop” descent, then reignited its engines to make a vertical landing.
Starship SN10’s post landing demise is unfortunate but still, everyone at SpaceX can chalk todays flight test up as a huge success. Become a patron at the link below for photo downloads, behind the scenes goodies, and more. @NASASpaceflight
Despite the unfortunate incident, the test is likely to signal progress for the massive vehicle.
On December, 9, an earlier Starship rocket was also slammed to the ground on the program’s first high-altitude flight, igniting a fireball, followed by a similar outcome with a second prototype last month. Luckily, no one was hurt in the mishaps, and there were no reports of injuries from the fire after the latest flight, which was the third high-altitude test.
The ambitious Starship will reportedly be used to shuttle as many as 12 people around the moon in 2023, land NASA astronauts on the lunar surface and eventually settle explorers on Mars. SpaceX founder Elon Musk still has a lot of work to prepare his Starship for its first orbital flight, which could occur later this year.
“I’m highly confident that we will have reached orbit many times with Starship before 2023, and that it will be safe enough for human transport by 2023,” Musk said on Tuesday in a video released by Japanese entrepreneur Yusaku Maezawa, who has invited eight people to apply to join his “fun trip” around the moon. “It’s looking very, very promising.”
Cutting edge technological masterpiece, SpaceX’s Starship is made as a versatile, fully reusable craft that can carry 100 metric tons for deep-space missions to the moon and Mars. It’s also been designed to serve as a hypersonic, point-to-point vehicle to reduce travel times across Earth.
Excluding a heavy booster that creates a two-stage system, Starship is 160 feet or say 49 meters high with a 30-foot diameter, and could carry as many as 100 passengers.