Watch: SpaceX's Starship prototype crashes in fireball after almost successful test flight

'We got all the data we needed, congrats SpaceX team,' tweets Elon Musk
Watch: SpaceX's Starship prototype crashes in fireball after almost successful test flight
Watch: SpaceX's Starship prototype crashes in fireball after almost successful test flight

ITDC INDIA EPRESS/ ITDC NEWS SpaceX's interplanetary rocket in-development Starship, which the company is developing for Mars missions, crashed in a fiery explosion during the test launch in Texas on Wednesday. The Starship prototype exploded while attempting to land after an otherwise successful test launch from the company's rocket facility in Boca Chica, Texas.

However, the company seemed unfazed about the incident. "Starship serial number 8 (SN8) lifted off from our Cameron County launchpad and successfully ascended, transitioned propellant, and performed its landing flip maneuver with precise flap control to reach its landing point. Low pressure in the fuel header tank during the landing burn led to high touchdown velocity resulting in a hard (and exciting!) landing," SpaceX stated on its website. Musk, too, downplayed the crash as he tweeted, "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!!" he tweeted.

The Starship rocket destroyed in the accident was a 16-story-tall prototype for the heavy-lift launch vehicle being developed by the billionaire entrepreneur's private space company to carry humans and 100 tons of cargo on future missions to the moon and Mars.

SpaceX’s Starship spacecraft and Super Heavy rocket (collectively referred to as Starship) represent a fully reusable transportation system designed to carry both crew and cargo to Earth orbit, the Moon, Mars and beyond. Starship will be the world’s most powerful launch vehicle ever developed, with the ability to carry in excess of 100 metric tonnes to Earth orbit.

Wednesday's test launch took off and ascended properly in a seemingly straight line, before one and then another of its engines went out. After 4 minutes and 45 seconds of flight, its third engine extinguished and the rocket began its descent in its expected position.

"With a test such as this, success is not measured by completion of specific objectives but rather how much we can learn, which will inform and improve the probability of success in the future as SpaceX rapidly advances development of Starship," a statement on the company's website said, implying even before the launch that an explosion or crash would not mean a failed mission.

Starship is designed to deliver satellites further and at a lower marginal cost per launch than the current Falcon vehicles. It is designed to enter Mars’ atmosphere at 7.5 kilometers per second and decelerate aerodynamically. Its Raptor engine is a reusable methalox staged-combustion engine that powers the Starship launch system. Raptor engines began flight testing on the Starship prototype rockets in July 2019, becoming the first full-flow staged combustion rocket engine ever flown.

The experimental flights are taking place in a nearly deserted part of southern Texas on the Gulf of Mexico near the US-Mexican border—an area empty enough that any flight malfunction would be unlikely to cause physical or property damage.

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