SpaceX has tested the first large aircraft of its Starship spacecraft, reaching an altitude of 12.5 km before crash landing in a huge fireball explosion.
Prior to the test, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk predicted that the launch and landing had only one chance of success.
Despite the failure, the test aircraft marked a major milestone for sending people to Mars.
The prototype spacecraft came close to achieving the landing and was able to fulfill a few more key objectives during the first type of flight test.
“Successful ascent, switchover on header tanks and proper flap control at landing points,” Mr Kasturi tweeted.
A similar attempt by a 12.5-kilometer sub-orbital aircraft failed on Tuesday with the Starship SN8 taking just 1.3 seconds to reach the lift off. The next Starship prototype, the SN9, has already been built and is expected to attempt a similar flight test sometime in the near future from the Box Chika facility at SpaceX in Texas.
Speaking at an event in Germany last week, Mr Kasturi said he was hopeful he would send the first man to Mars in 2024 in a starship craft.
The serially delayed launch ended at 4.45pm local time (10.45pm GMT), with only 15 minutes left until the day’s launch window closed.
About two minutes after the lift-off, a fire broke out at the beginning of the craft, although it soon went out.
After reaching its target height, Starship SN8 attempted to perform a complex flip landing technique, through which it basically landed in the abdomen.
After the start, and before the crash landed, Mr. Kasturi tweeted enthusiastically about the test.
It has been found to lose control, as it is not at a 60-degree angle.
However, the craft soon discovered itself and was able to land almost without incident.
But when it did touch, the starship SN8 was crushed into a ball of fire.
“The SN8’s flight test is an exciting next step in the development of a fully reusable transport system that is capable of carrying both crew and cargo to Earth orbit, the moon, Mars and beyond.” We have received support and encouragement, “SpaceX said in a statement before the test.
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