SpaceX’s high-altitude test flight for its prototype Starship SN8 ended in an explosion Wednesday as the spacecraft attempted to land in Boca Chica.
It was the first test of its kind for the Starship, running all three raptor engines in an attempt to reach a height of more than 41,000 feet.
After climbing, the craft did a bellyflop maneuver and then corrected itself. The prototype came in for a landing at an angle before exploded at what appeared to be touchdown.
Musk tweeted about the launch, saying “Successful ascent, switchover to header tanks & precise flap control to landing point!”
He also said fuel header tank pressure was low during landing burn, which caused the touchdown velocity to be high.
“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!!” Musk tweeted.
Successful ascent, switchover to header tanks & precise flap control to landing point! https://t.co/IIraiESg5M— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 9, 2020
The spacecraft is a two-stage vehicle that founder Elon Musk hopes will one day take as many as 100 people to Mars. It’s the first Starship to be fully outfitted with a nosecone and flaps.
Mars, here we come!!— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 9, 2020