SpaceX’s Starship prototype has exploded while attempting to land after its test launch from the company’s rocket facility in Boca Chica, Texas. Live video of Wednesday’s test showed the self-guided rocket landing at speed following a controlled descent before disappearing in a ball of flame.
Despite the catastrophic end to the six-and-a-half-minute test, SpaceX entrepreneur Elon Musk was thrilled. “Mars, here we come!!” he tweeted.
The Starship rocket destroyed in the accident was a 16-storey-tall prototype for the heavy-lift launch vehicle being developed by Musk’s private space company to carry humans and 100 tons of cargo on future missions to the moon and Mars.
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. SpaceX did not make clear whether the rocket had flown that high.
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