Elon Musk says SpaceX has obtained all the data necessary for its program to send people and goods to the Moon and to Mars.
SpaceX’s Starship prototype rocket exploded in flames as it made a vertical landing on Wednesday, minutes after what appeared to be an uneventful test launch from the company’s test site on the Texas coast.
The destroyed Starship rocket was the prototype for a heavy-duty launcher that Elon Musk’s private space company hopes to transport people – and cargo – on future missions to the Moon and Mars.
The homing rocket exploded while landing on an airstrip after a controlled descent. The test flight was scheduled to reach an altitude of 41,000 feet (12,500 meters), powered by three of SpaceX’s new Raptor engines for the first time.
Spaceship landing flip maneuver pic.twitter.com/QuD9HwZ9CX
– SpaceX (@SpaceX) December 10, 2020
Musk said in a tweet immediately after the crash that “rocket fuel tank pressure was low” during the descent, resulting in “high touchdown speed”.
The billionaire founder of Tesla added that SpaceX got all the data it needed from the test. “March, here we are !!” he tweeted.
Tests broadcast live
The test launch took off and climbed in an apparently straight line, before one and then another of its engines stopped. After four minutes and 45 seconds of flight, its third engine shut down and the rocket began its descent into its intended position.
The engines were restarted seconds before landing in an attempt to slow the ship down, but it crashed violently into Earth.
SpaceX managed to detonate smaller prototypes several hundred meters in the air for less than a minute.
The latest flight was broadcast live on the @SpaceX Twitter account and aimed to check the metallic body of the SN8 (Starship number 8) and its three engines for their aerodynamics, including during the ship’s return to Earth – which is taking place vertically, in the same spirit. like SpaceX’s pioneering Falcon 9 rocket.
“With a test like this, success is not measured by achieving specific goals, but rather what we can learn, which will inform and improve the likelihood of success in the future as SpaceX rapidly advances the development of Starship, “a statement said on the company’s website, suggesting even before launch that an explosion or crash wouldn’t mean a failed mission.
The construction of the SN9, the next prototype, is already almost complete.
The experimental flights take place in Boca Chica, in the Gulf of Mexico, near the border with Mexico. Musk recently announced his intention to move to Texas from California.
Today I witnessed the most insane thing I have ever seen with my own eyes. Watching # SN8 fall from the sky, only slowly, and then see the engines come back on… yeah… I lost my mind! Incredible work @SpaceX and @Elon Musk. It was even cooler than I could have ever imagined ? # SN9 next! pic.twitter.com/eJLqClKMDq
– Everyday astronaut (@Erdayastronaut) December 10, 2020
Musk hopes that he will one day be able to launch several spacecraft to Mars, although they may prove useful even in the short term, as NASA plans to re-establish a continued presence on the Moon in 2024.
Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa is currently expected to pay an undisclosed sum to take Starship around the moon possibly as early as 2023.