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SpaceX's spaceship rocket explodes into a ball of fire the moment it lands on the launch pad


The SpaceX Starship rocket exploded the moment it hit the ground after its first high-altitude flight – leaving nothing behind but debris and clouds of smoke.

CEO Elon Musk had said it was unlikely that Starship serial number 8 (SN8) would land safely – and the billionaire was right.

The massive missile launched at 5:45 p.m. (CET) at the company's Boca Chica test facility, ignited its powerful Raptor engines, and soared in the sky to reach its 41,000-foot target.

The flight lasted approximately six minutes before the engines were shut off and SN8 began its journey back to the launch pad.

The world sat on the edge of their seats as the missile neared the ground, wondering if Musk's prediction was correct.

The moment it touched down, the entire spaceship went up in flames, leaving nothing but a damaged piece of the nose cone.

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The SpaceX Starship rocket exploded the moment it hit the ground after its first high-altitude flight – leaving nothing behind but debris and clouds of smoke

Musk, however, was not shocked by the news that his billion-dollar vehicle is now in pieces.

He immediately shared his excitement about the launch on Twitter and wrote: "Successful ascent, switch to collection tanks and precise flap control on landing point!"

& # 39; The pressure in the fuel tank was low during landing resulting in a high touchdown speed and RUD but we have all the data we needed! Congratulations SpaceX Team Hell yeah !! & # 39;

This latest prototype is the first to come with a nose cone, body flaps and three motors.

The massive rocket launched at 5:45 p.m. at the company's Boca Chica test facility, ignited the powerful Raptor engines, and took off into the skies

The massive rocket launched at 5:45 p.m. at the company's Boca Chica test facility, ignited the powerful Raptor engines, and took off into the skies

The spaceship soared straight into the air for its first high-altitude flight

The spaceship soared straight into the air for its first high-altitude flight

It was shot at an altitude of up to 12.5 kilometers, which is almost 100 times higher than previous hops and when flying over the stratosphere.

The spaceship seemed to have hit the mark, or at least got close, but SpaceX gave no immediate word about how high it was before it was destroyed.

The true-to-scale stainless steel model is 50 meters high and 9 meters in diameter.

It flew out over the Gulf of Mexico and after about five minutes turned sideways as planned and sank in free fall back to the southeastern tip of Texas near the Mexican border.

The Raptor engines burned again, sending the missile straight up from the side.

When it touched down, however, the vehicle went up in flames and broke, parts scattered.

The entire flight took a little over six minutes and 40 minutes.

The Starship two-stage heavy-duty vehicle has been in development since 2012 and is designed to cut startup costs by making it more reusable.

The flight lasted approximately six minutes before the engines were shut off and SN8 began its journey back to the launch pad

The flight lasted approximately six minutes before the engines were shut off and SN8 began its journey back to the launch pad

The soaring flight focused on testing a number of features of the huge spacecraft that Musk said could bring the first passengers to Mars as early as 2026.

These tests include the vehicle's three Raptor engines, entry-level aerodynamic capabilities including the body flaps, and a "landing flip maneuver".

The soaring flight focused on testing a number of features of the huge spacecraft that Musk said could bring the first passengers to Mars as early as 2026

The soaring flight focused on testing a number of features of the huge spacecraft that Musk said could bring the first passengers to Mars as early as 2026

These tests include the vehicle's three Raptor engines, entry-level aerodynamic capabilities including the body flaps, and a "landing flip maneuver".

These tests include the vehicle's three Raptor engines, entry-level aerodynamic capabilities including the body flaps, and a "landing flip maneuver".

The test flight was originally set for December 2nd, then postponed to December 4th, and then to December 7th when it was Tuesday again that was scrubbed at the last minute.

This "hop" is a historic event for SpaceX, as previous prototypes only landed 500 feet in the air.

But it's also the most destructive.

Musk recently tweeted that "a lot of things need to go right" in order for it to land on solid ground after suborbital flight, adding that "there is probably a 1/3 chance of completing all of the mission objectives".

The moment it touched down, the entire spaceship exploded in flames, and when the smoke cleared, nothing was left but a damaged piece of the nose cone

The moment it touched down, the entire spaceship exploded in flames, and when the smoke cleared, nothing was left but a damaged piece of the nose cone

The massive 160-foot missile sat on the launch pad on Tuesday, and after the countdown clock struck "one" the engines started to bleed, but seconds later the ground crew said "Raptor Abort". However, it did the hops Wednesday even though it didn't come out alive

The massive 160-foot missile sat on the launch pad on Tuesday, and after the countdown clock struck "one" the engines started to bleed, but seconds later the ground crew said "Raptor Abort". However, it did the hops Wednesday even though it didn't come out alive

Just under eight miles of incline is not enough to get into space – but since all previous "jumps" were measured in feet rather than miles, this is a significant step forward.

The edge of space is agreed by NASA and others to be 50 miles above sea level, but to go into orbit you must be at least 100 miles above sea level.

Just under eight miles of incline isn't enough to get into space - but since all of the previous "hops" were measured in feet rather than miles, it's a significant step forward

Just under eight miles of incline isn't enough to get into space – but since all of the previous "hops" were measured in feet rather than miles, it's a significant step forward

The test flight was originally set for December 2nd, then postponed to December 4th (picture) and then to December 7th when it was Tuesday again that was scrubbed at the last minute

The test flight will go up 7.8 miles and then land safely at the test facility in Texas

The test flight will go up 7.8 miles and then land safely at the test facility in Texas

Last week, Musk tweeted: & # 39; Good spaceship SN8 static fire! The goal is the first 15 km high flight next week. The aim is to test 3 engine steps, body flaps, transition from main to collection tanks and landing flap. & # 39;

The overall altitude of the test dropped from 15 km to 9.5 km, but no reason was given for this change.

This suborbital flight aimed to restore data on the performance of the vehicle's three Raptor engines, general entry aerodynamic capabilities, and propellant transfer controls.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk tweeted a photo of the massive Starship SN8 prototype on the launch pad of the test facility in Texas

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk tweeted a photo of the massive Starship SN8 prototype on the launch pad of the test facility in Texas

"In such a test, success is not measured by the achievement of certain goals, but by how much we can learn," SpaceX wrote in a statement.

This will "inform and improve the probability of success in the future as SpaceX is rapidly advancing the development of Starship".

Starship's development was rapid. At the same time, new prototypes and next-generation models were developed to enable quick changes.

In the past year alone, SpaceX completed two low altitude flight tests with the SN5 and SN6, running over 16,000 seconds during the ground engine launch.

The altitude test involves the three massive Raptor engines to see how they handle in flight

The altitude test involves the three massive Raptor engines to see how they handle in flight

The giant rocket will launch satellites, passengers and payloads to the moon and Mars in the coming decades

The giant rocket will launch satellites, passengers and payloads to the moon and Mars in the coming decades

Plus, as production and fidelity increase, SpaceX has built 10 Starship prototypes. SN9 is almost ready to move to the pad, which now has two active booths for quick development testing, ”the company said.

Landing is one of the most important aspects – it must be fully reusable in order to meet the goals and prices per flight set by the SpaceX team.

There are a number of uses for Starship – including putting hundreds of satellites in orbit at the same time and landing astronauts on the Moon and Mars.

SpaceX's CEO previously said there was a "fighting chance" that the first spacecraft flight to Mars could take place as early as 2024 – the year NASA plans to send the first woman and next man back to the lunar surface.

If the high altitude test - which involves firing the triple Raptor engine and lifting the spaceship into the air - is successful, more tests are likely to follow

If the high altitude test – which involves firing the triple Raptor engine and lifting the spaceship into the air – is successful, more tests are likely to follow

Musk had suggested the high altitude test flight could result in a crash - and he was right

Musk had suggested the high altitude test flight could result in a crash – and he was right

There are also reports that there are other prototypes of the spaceship that can be tested if that flight fails.

SN8 was the first prototype with a nasal cone and nasal fins, which are helpful when testing at high altitude. The previous "short jumps" were made using the prototype SN6.

Musk says he has the SN9 and SN10 up and running because they were developed in parallel with SN8 and follow a "building successive generations of prototypes" theme so they can test and iterate quickly.

"The flight test of SN8 is an exciting next step in the development of a fully reusable transportation system that can move crew and cargo to orbit, the moon, Mars and beyond," wrote SpaceX.

"When we break new ground, we continue to appreciate the support and encouragement we've received."

While many view the SN8 as a bug, this isn't the first prototype SpaceX exploded for trial purposes – or even accidentally.

The company lost a total of four prototypes on its journey, all of which went up in flames at the test site in Texas.

WHAT IS ELON MUSK & # 39; S & # 39; BFR & # 39 ;?

The BFR (Big F *** ing Rocket), now known as the Starship, will complete all missions and is smaller than those announced by Musk in 2016.

The SpaceX CEO said the rocket would make its first trip to the red planet in 2022, carrying only cargo, followed by a manned mission in 2024, claiming other SpaceX products would be "cannibalized" to pay for.

The rocket would be partially reusable and could fly directly from Earth to Mars.

Once built, Musk believes the rocket could be used for travel on Earth – and says passengers could get anywhere in less than an hour.

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