Spacex Starship Explodes on Attempted Landing during Test Launching (Photos)

SpaceX’s Starship rocket exploded in flames as it made a vertical landing on Wednesday, minutes after what seemed to be an uneventful test launch from the company’s testing site on the coast of Texas.

The Starship rocket destroyed was the prototype for a heavy-lift launch vehicle that Elon Musk’s private space company hopes will carry people and cargo – on future missions to the Moon and Mars.

The self-guided rocket blew up as it touched down on a landing pad following a controlled descent.

The test flight had been intended to reach an altitude of 41,000 feet (12,500 metres), propelled by three of SpaceX’s newly developed Raptor engines for the first time.

Musk said in a tweet immediately following the accident that the rocket’s “fuel header tank pressure was low” during descent, which caused “touchdown velocity to be high.”

The test launch took off and ascended in a seemingly straight line, before one and then another of its engines stopped.

After four minutes and 45 seconds of flight its third engine extinguished and the rocket began its descent in its expected position.

The engines were restarted just seconds before landing in an effort to slow the ship, but it crashed hard into the Earth.

The latest flight was live streamed on the @SpaceX Twitter account and aimed to check the metal body of SN8 (Starship number 8 ) and its three engines for their aero dynamism, including during the ship’s return to Earth – which takes place vertically, in the same vein as SpaceX’s pioneering Falcon 9 rocket.

“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.

Furthermore NASA awarded SpaceX $135 million to help develop Starship, alongside competing vehicles from rival ventures Blue Origin, the space company owned by Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos, and Leidos-owned Dynetcis.

The three companies are vying for future contracts to build the moon landers under NASA’s Artemis program, which calls for a series of human lunar explorations within the next decade.

Hawthorne, California-based SpaceX has been buying up residential properties in the Boca Chica village situated just north of the U.S.-Mexico border in southeastern Texas to make room for his expanding Starship facilities, which Musk envisions as a future “gateway to Mars.”

Musk has faced resistance from Boca Chica residents unwilling to sell their homes.

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