On Wednesday afternoon, SpaceX successfully launched--and nearly landed--a fully-assembled prototype of its next generation Starship rocket on a suborbital flight from its facility in south Texas. This is the rocket that Elon Musk hopes will soon carry humans to the moon and, eventually, to Mars, but Wednesday's launch was an uncrewed test flight that lasted just a few minutes. The rocket flew to an altitude of 40,000 feet--roughly the cruising altitude of a commercial airliner--and performed what Musk has called a "belly flop" maneuver on its way back to Earth. The rocket executed a controlled descent to the surface and righted itself just a few hundred feet above the ground. But it wasn't able to slow its descent fast enough to safely touch down and exploded spectacularly near the landing pad.
SpaceX is gearing up to conduct the first test hops of Elon Musk's Starship prototype rocket at its Boca Chica, Texas facility. In recent days, the test site has been swarming with activity as engineers moved the gleaming spacecraft to the launch pad and installed its sole Raptor engine that packs twice the firing power of SpaceX's older Merlin engines. A new set of aerial images show off SpaceX's progress in preparation for the suborbital hop tests, which were slated to take place earlier this week, but were later postponed following several days of bad weather. A new set of aerial images show off SpaceX's progress in preparation for the suborbital hop tests, which were slated to take place earlier this week, but were later postponed following several days of bad weather. SpaceX's Starship prototype, called the Starhopper, will undergo several tests to make sure its systems work properly.
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.
SpaceX's Starship Serial Number 15 could be the firm's first reused prototype. CEO Elon Musk revealed on Twitter that he might'try to re-fly SN15 soon,' as it is the only Starship to survive a test flight. The latest success gave SpaceX the first full flight data and allowed the team to thoroughly inspect physical conduction of the rocket – specifically how the massive Raptor engines performed. Last week's event also puts the Musk-owned firm on track for the first orbital test that is set for July, which will see Starship Serial Number 20 venture to the edge of space. This also brings Musk one step closer to reusing Starships, which is a key part of his ambitious plan to send one million humans to Mars by 2050.
Elon Musk's aerospace company SpaceX ignored at least two warnings from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that launch of its SN8 rocket last December might not be safe, leaked documents show. Warnings from the FAA were based on its launch-weather modelling software, according to the documents, which were seen by the Verge. If the rocket had exploded, its shockwave could be strengthened by weather conditions like wind speed and endanger nearby homes, the models suggested. But SpaceX ignored the warnings because it said the FAA's software could be interfered with to provide'better or worse results for an identical scenario'. SpaceX went ahead with the launch, violating its launch license from the FAA in the process.