SpaceX conducted its first major flight test of its spacecraft, reaching an altitude of 12.5 kilometers before landing in a massive explosion of fireball.
Before the test, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk predicted that there was only a one in three chance of a successful launch and landing.
Despite the failure, the test flight marks a major milestone toward sending humans to Mars.
The spacecraft prototype looked close to landing and also managed to achieve several other major objectives during the first flight test of its kind.
“Successful ascent, shift to head cabinets and precise flutter control to landing point,” Mr. Musk tweeted.
The Starship SN8 failed in a similar attempt for a 12.5-kilometer suborbital flight on Tuesday with only 1.3 seconds remaining until takeoff. Starship’s next prototype, SN9, is already built and is expected to attempt a similar flight test sometime in the near future at SpaceX’s Boca Chica facility in Texas.
Speaking last week at an event in Germany, Musk said he hopes to send the first humans to Mars aboard the Starship in 2024.
The late launch was finally serialized at 4.45 PM local time (10.45 PM GMT), with only 15 minutes until the day window closed.
About two minutes after take-off, the base of the vehicle appeared to be on fire, although this was soon extinguished.
After reaching its target height, Starship SN8 attempted to perform a complex landing maneuver, with its stomach flanking to the ground.
Shortly after launch, before landing in the crash, Musk excitedly tweeted about the test.
It looks like he’s lost control, because it wasn’t the intended 60-degree angle.
However, the vehicle quickly repaired itself and almost landed without incident.
But as it landed, the SN8 spacecraft was wrecked in a ball of fire.
“The SN8 flight test is an exciting next step in developing a fully reusable transportation system capable of transporting both crew and cargo into Earth orbit, the moon, Mars and beyond. As we launch into new territory, we continue to appreciate all,” SpaceX said in a pre-test statement. The support and encouragement we received. “