There’s good news and bad news for Elon Musk’s SpaceX project tonight.
The good news (apparently) is that, as TechCrunch reports, SpaceX is one step closer to replacing its Falcon line of active duty spacecraft: Its Starship prototype ‘SN8’ achieved a major milestone in the ongoing spacecraft’s development program, flying to a height of around 40,000 feet at SpaceX’s development facility in southern Texas.
One of the Starship’s three Raptor engines cut off around 2 minutes into flight, but the prototype rocket continued its ascent. Then at around three minutes, another extinguished, leaving just one lit and firing. The rocket continued to climb, oriented upward, but it was hard to tell from the feed exactly how high it reached. The third flared out at around 4:30, and the Starship oriented into a horizontal position, angling back towards Earth but effectively flat on its belly, gliding.
That was all expected and went according to plan.
“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,” SpaceX said in a statement.
But…it all went a little bit turbo as the massive starship attempted to land…
The Starship’s engines re-ignited as the rocket approached the ground, flipping the rocket into a vertical orientation once again and slowing its descent.
“It landed a bit harder than expected, however, resulting in an explosion that engulfed the rocket.”
…well that’s not supposed to happen. But, SpaceX’s flight controller could be heard on the stream congratulating the team on a job well done…
Watch the whole thing here…
Tough way to start your life in Texas though, eh Elon? Although he seems pleased…
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!!
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 9, 2020
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