SpaceX Starship prototype explodes after 'soft landing'

SpaceX Starship SN10 launch LIVE: Reattempt underway after lift-off of Mars-bound prototype aborted

SpaceX Starship SN10 launch LIVE: Reattempt underway after lift-off of Mars-bound prototype aborted

The test saw the spacecraft fly up more than 6 miles and conduct a "belly flop" maneuver before righting itself to land vertically with a slight tilt. SpaceX changed the procedure on this landing attempt, igniting all three and then shutting down two as needed for the landing. A launch attempt three hours earlier was aborted at engine ignition because of a "slightly conservative high thrust limit", company founder and chief executive Elon Musk tweeted.

After an abandoned attempt Thursday morning, Elon Musk's SpaceX launched its crewless Starship SN10 prototype at around 12.15pm.

That appeared to work. It descended horizontally over the Gulf of Mexico and then flipped upright just in time to land.

As seen on SpaceX video, the rocket appeared to have otherwise landed properly after its flight.

"Third time's the charm, as the saying goes", John Insprucker, SpaceX's principal integration engineer, declared on the company's livestream. In both of those flights, Starship reached its target altitude of around 10 km (33,000 ft) but exploded in a fireball as it came down to land.

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The tests take place in a almost deserted area leased by SpaceX in South Texas near the border with Mexico and next to the Gulf of Mexico -the area is vast and empty enough that an accident or explosion would not cause damage or fatalities. Then about 10 minutes later, an explosion thrust SN10 back into the air, leaving it in pieces.

The full-scale prototype of Elon Musk's envisioned Mars ship soared more than 6 miles (10 kilometers) after lifting off from the southern tip of Texas on Wednesday.

Starship successfully touched down in Boca Chica after what seemed to be a flawless flight. Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa is due to become one of SpaceX's first civilian passengers in a mission that will do a lunar fly-by, according to SpaceX. On that mission, called "dearMoon", Maezawa would fly with up to eight artists. A livestream for the event is now active and can be found over on the NASA Space Flight YouTube channel. "I began to think that maybe every single person who is doing something creative could be called an artist", he said in a video.

The project's website has opened up preregistrations for the contest, which will be followed by an "assignment" and interviews, with selections of the crew expected by the end of June. The project did not respond to questions from SpaceNews on those and related topics about the project.

"This capability will enable a fully reusable transportation system created to carry both crew and cargo on long-duration, interplanetary flights and help humanity return to the Moon, and travel to Mars and beyond".

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