SpaceX 'Starship' meets fiery ending in test flight

2020-12-10

SpaceX's bullet-shaped Starship prototype exploded and disappeared in a ball of flame on Wednesday, while attempting to land after its test launch. W-2140B

SpaceX launched the vehicle from its rocket facility in Boca Chica, Texas.

Despite the disastrous ending of the six-and-a-half-minute test, CEO Elon Musk appeared quite satisfied with the outcome of the test flight.

"Mars, here we come!!" he tweeted just minutes after the landing mishap, hailing the ascent phase a success.

Musk said that the rocket's "fuel header tank pressure was low" during descent, which led to high touchdown velocity.

The SpaceX founder revealed that the Starship team had received all the data they needed before the crash.

The vehicle was intended to reach an altitude of 12,500 metres in the test flight, though neither Musk nor SpaceX confirmed whether it had done so. However, it was the highest flight yet for the Starship, which Musk says could carry people to the Red Planet.

SpaceX said that Starship "successfully ascended, transitioned propellant, and performed its landing flip manoeuvre with precise flap control to reach its landing point".