SpaceX’s Starship prototype exploded while attempting to land after its test launch from the company’s missile facility in Boca Chica, Texas. And a live video of Wednesday’s test showed the self-guided missile falling rapidly after a controlled landing before disappearing into a ball of flame.
Despite the disastrous conclusion of the six and a half minutes of testing, SpaceX entrepreneur Elon Musk was overjoyed. “Mars, here we come !!” chirp.
The Starship missile destroyed in the accident was a 16-story prototype of the heavy launch vehicle developed by the private space company Mask Space to transport humans and 100 tons of cargo on future missions to the Moon and Mars.
The aim of the test flight was to reach an altitude of 41,000 feet (12,500 meters), propelled by three of SpaceX’s newly developed Raptor engines for the first time. SpaceX It was not clear if the missile flew at this altitude.
Immediately after the landing, Musk said that “the fuel head tank pressure was low” during the descent, “causing the descent speed to rise.” He added that SpaceX got “all the data we need” from the test and praised the successful launch stage.
SpaceX made its first attempt to launch the Starship on Tuesday, but a problem with the Raptor engines forced an automatic abort just a second before take off.
The full Starship rocket, which will reach 394 feet (120 meters) when combined with the ultra-heavy first-stage booster, is the company’s next-generation fully reusable launch vehicle and the center of Mask’s ambitions to make human travel into space more routine and affordable.
NASA awarded SpaceX $ 135 million to help develop the Starship, along with competing vehicles from competing projects Blue Origin, billionaire-owned space company Amazon Jeff Bezos, and Leidos-owned Dynetcis.
The three companies are competing for future contracts to build lunar landers under NASA’s Artemis program, which calls for a series of human exploration of the moon over the next decade.
SpaceX, headquartered in Hawthorne, California, is buying residential properties in the village of Boca Chica north of the US-Mexico border in southeast Texas to make way for its expanding space facilities, which Musk envisions as “the future gateway to Mars.”