American aerospace company SpaceX successfully managed to sail one of its heavy-duty launch vehicle prototypes, Starship into the sky in a high-altitude test blast-off on Wednesday from Boca Chica, Texas and then back to Earth to achieve the first upright landing.
— Leandra (@leandrahino) March 4, 2021
But the celebrations were short lived as an automated fire-suppression system trained a stream of water on flames still burning at the base of the rocket, the spacecraft blew itself to pieces about eight minutes after touchdown.
The video feed provided by SpaceX on the company’s YouTube channel cut off moments after the landing. But separate fan feeds streamed over the same social media platform showed an explosion suddenly erupting at the base of the rocket, hurling the SN10 into the air before it crashed to the ground and became engulfed in flames.
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
— Jack Beyer (@thejackbeyer) March 4, 2021
The was still in contrast to its predecessors SN8 and SN9, which crashed into the ground.
Nonetheless scientists say SpaceX will be hugely encouraged by the test and the fact that the prototype successfully executed its in-flight manoeuvres and managed to make a reasonably soft landing.
SpaceX envisages Starships replacing its existing Falcon rockets.
These vehicles carry out several crewed and uncrewed missions for the US space agency, the American military, and other commercial concerns.
Elon Musk, the billionaire SpaceX founder says the new 50 metre tall Starship will do it all, bigger and better – orbiting satellites and carrying passengers, both around the Earth and to off-world destinations such as the Moon and Mars.
A first orbital Starship flight is planned for the year’s end. Musk has said he intends to fly Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa around the moon with the Starship in 2023.