SpaceX Starship Crashes In Huge Explosion
The first major flight test of SpaceX’s Starship SN8 ended in disaster yesterday when it crash-landed back to Earth with a huge explosion.
The ship reached a height of 12.5km over the Gulf of Mexico before returning back to the southeastern tip of Texas, near the Mexican border, in a free-fall.
Before takeoff, CEO Elon Musk said he was prepared for an unsuccessful test as he predicted there was only a one-in-three chance of the launch and landing succeeding.
See the moment the rocket burst into flames below:
The test marked the highest and most elaborate flight yet for the rocketship as it made it almost 100 times higher than previous attempts. It skimmed the stratosphere and appeared close to achieving the landing prior to the crash, when it crumpled into a ball of fire.
Despite the crash Musk noted that the test, which lasted a total of six-and-a-half minutes, managed to fulfil several other key objectives, ultimately marking a major milestone towards sending humans to Mars.
Successful ascent, switchover to header tanks & precise flap control to landing point.
Explaining what caused the crash, he added, ‘Fuel header tank pressure was low during landing burn, causing touchdown velocity to be high & RUD.’
The CEO still deemed the test a success as he said it gave the scientists ‘all the data [they] needed’, adding, ‘Congrats SpaceX team hell yeah!!’
In a statement released before the test, SpaceX said:
SN8’s flight test is an exciting next step in the development of a fully reusable transportation system capable of carrying both crew and cargo to Earth orbit, the Moon, Mars, and beyond. As we venture into new territory, we continue to appreciate all of the support and encouragement we have received.
The full-scale, stainless steel Starship measured 160 feet (50 metres) tall and 30 feet (9 metres) in diameter. It was the first of its kind equipped with a nose cone, body flaps and three engines.
The Starship SN8 failed a similar attempt of the test flight the day before with just 1.3 seconds to go until liftoff. After Wednesday’s attempt, SpaceX is ready to try again with the next Starship prototype, SN9, which is already built. The ship is expected to attempt a similar flight test in the near future from SpaceX’s Boca Chica facility in Texas.
Last week, Musk expressed his hopes that the first humans will be able to travel to Mars on board a Starship craft in 2024.
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