In a milestone for the futuristic spacecraft set to fly humans in 2023, Space Exploration Technologies Corp.’s latest and biggest rocket — the SN-10 prototype — successfully landed in its third test flight at about 5.15 pm in Texas, United States.
The rocket flew to an altitude of around 10 km, conducted a “belly flop” manoeuvre before righting itself to land vertically with a slight tilt, and then touched down on the landing pad in a ‘soft landing’.
A malfunction, however, occurred during the landing and a fire appeared to ignite as the vehicle landed, leading to the spacecraft exploding after a few minutes on the landing pad.
A live video stream of the launch was broadcast on SpaceX’s website.
The test marks a new development in the development of massive Starship that SpaceX founder Elon Musk plans to use carry as many as 12 people around the moon in two years, land NASA astronauts on the lunar surface, and eventually settle explorers on Mars.
“I’m highly confident that we will have reached orbit many times with Starship before 2023, and that it will be safe enough for human transport by 2023,” Musk was quoted as saying on Tuesday by HT.
SpaceX has conceived the stainless steel Starship as a versatile, fully reusable craft that can carry 100 metric tons for deep-space missions to the moon and Mars. It’s also designed to serve as a hypersonic, point-to-point vehicle to reduce travel times across Earth.
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