SpaceX successfully lands prototype Starship rocket
The test flight represents a major win for the hard-charging company, which eventually wants to carry crew inside Starship for missions to Mars.
SpaceX managed to land its prototype Starship rocket at its Texas base without blowing it up on Wednesday, the first time it has succeeded in doing so in five attempts.The test flight represents a major win for the hard-charging company, which eventually wants to carry crew inside Starship for missions to Mars.
“Starship landing nominal!” tweeted founder Elon Musk triumphantly, after the last four tries ended in big explosions.The execution wasn’t quite perfect, with a small fire engulfing the base of the 50 meter- (160 feet-) high rocket, dubbed SN15, shortly after landing.SpaceX webcaster John Insprucker explained this was “not unusual with the methane fuel we’re using,” adding engineers were still working out design issues.The flames were quickly put out with water cannons, footage showed.Earlier, the rocket took off at around 5:25 pm local time (2225 GMT) from the Starbase in Boca Chica in southern Texas, reached an altitude of 10 kilometers (6 miles) and performed a series of maneuvers, including a horizontal descent called a “belly flop.”
SpaceX was facing added pressure to succeed with Wednesday’s flight after NASA last month announced a version of Starship will be used as a lunar lander when the space agency returns humans to the Moon.