New York City, US, Mar 3 (efe-epa).- A prototype of a SpaceX Starship rocket, which aims to put humans onto Mars, touched down successfully for the first time on Wednesday, but exploded shortly after landing.
The Starship SN10 spacecraft was launched on Wednesday evening after a series of delays from SpaceX’s site in Boca Chica, Texas, and managed to climb to 10,000 meters in just over four minutes as planned.
It then performed a “belly flop” to shift to a horizontal position for its descent and transitioned back to upright to land vertically.
However, the rocket exploded a few minutes after sitting on the landing pad due to reasons the company has yet to clarify.
SpaceX founder Elon Musk, whose company is the first to pull off a vertical landing of the first stage of a rocket, announced on Twitter that the SN10 had “landed in one piece” before exploding, a phenomena he refers to as “rapid unplanned disassembly.”
This is the third time that the Starship prototype, a much more complex, three-engine version of commercial rockets, has attempted to complete a high-altitude test flight landing, but it is the first time that it has managed to successfully pull off a soft vertical touchdown.
“Third time’s a charm, as the saying goes. We’ve had a successful soft touchdown on the landing pad,” said John Insprucker, SpaceX’s principal integration engineer said during the launch webcast.
SpaceX hopes to put satellites into orbit around Earth, and cargo and people onto the moon and Mars.
Musk estimates that developing the project will cost about $5 billion, while some experts doubt that colonizing Mars is a viable option. EFE-EPA