SpaceX’s Starship SN8 blows up during landing phase of high-altitude test flight

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.

SpaceX's Starship SN8 exploded while landing after a high-altitude test flight in Texas on Wednesday.

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.

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.

About the Authors:

Aaron Barker has been a senior digital editor at KPRC 2 since 2016. As a meteorologist, he specializes in stories about the weather. He has covered Hurricane Harvey, the Astros first World Series win, the Santa Fe High School shooting, the ITC fire and Tropical Storm Imelda.

Award-winning journalist, mother, YouTuber, social media guru, millennial, mentor, storyteller, University of Houston alumna and Houston-native.