SpaceX’s Starship SN8 rocket exploded spectacularly Wednesday upon descent after an 8-mile skyward climb. When you already have SN9 and SN10 prototypes planned, that seven-minute test run was considered a success by chief executive Elon Musk.
The rocket’s first high-altitude space test went as hoped and Musk had even shared that there was a one-in-three chance of the landing coming off properly in southeast Texas. The rocket glided back to Boca Chica for two minutes before the Raptor engines fired to execute a landing flip maneuver that rights the rocket vertically. Eventually, the groundbreaking move for a rocket this size is what will allow it to travel between planets.
Upon touchdown, the 165-foot stainless steel rocket became a future GIF when it burst into flames and exploded into pieces.
“Successful ascent, switchover to header tanks & precise flap control to landing point!” Musk wrote on Twitter. “Fuel header tank pressure was low during landing burn, causing touchdown velocity to be high & RUD, but we got all the data we needed. Congrats SpaceX team hell yeah!”
It’s his money, so as long as he’s good with the kaboom. He is aiming for an unmanned Mars mission by 2024. “Mars, here we come!!” he tweeted after the crash landing.
The live stream posted: “Awesome test. Congrats Starship team!” And fellow gazillionaire Jeff Bezos, also in the next-generation rocket business, posted on Instagram, “Anybody who knows how hard this stuff is is impressed by today’s Starship test.” The ascent went 10 times as high as any previous test flight.
Previous launches had been delayed for complications. After all, this is rocket science.
Mars, here we come!!
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 9, 2020