SpaceX conducted its first major flight test of its spacecraft, reaching an altitude of 12.5 kilometers before landing in a massive fireball explosion.
Before the test, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk predicted that there was only a one in three chance of a successful launch and landing.
Despite the failure, the test flight marks a major milestone toward sending humans to Mars.
The spacecraft prototype looked close to landing and also managed to achieve several other major objectives during the first flight test of its kind.
“Successful ascent, shift to head tanks and precise control of flap to the landing point,” Musk said on Twitter.
The Starship SN8 failed a similar attempt for a 12.5 km suborbital flight on Tuesday with only 1.3 seconds remaining until takeoff. The Starship’s next prototype, SN9, has already been built and is expected to attempt a similar flight test sometime in the near future at SpaceX’s Boca Chica facility in Texas.
Speaking last week at an event in Germany, Musk said he hopes to send the first humans to Mars aboard the Starship in 2024.
The late launch was finally serialized at 4.45 PM local time (10.45 PM GMT), with only 15 minutes until the day window closed.
About two minutes after take-off, the base of the vehicle appeared to be on fire, although this was quickly extinguished.
After reaching its target altitude, Starship SN8 has attempted a complex landing maneuver, with its belly flanking primarily to the ground.
Shortly after launch, before landing in the crash, Musk excitedly tweeted about the test.
It looks like he’s lost control, because it wasn’t the intended 60-degree angle.
However, the vehicle quickly repaired itself and was able to land almost without accident.
But as it landed, the SN8 spacecraft was crashing into a ball of fire.
“The SN8 flight test is an exciting next step in the development of a fully reusable transportation system capable of transporting both crew and cargo into Earth orbit, the moon, Mars and beyond. As we launch into new territory, we continue to appreciate all,” SpaceX said in a pre-test statement. The support and encouragement we received. “
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