Washington DC, Dec 9 (efe-epa).- A prototype of a giant rocket, with which the private aerospace company SpaceX intends to take humans to Mars, exploded on Wednesday while landing after a test flight in Texas, United States.
The nearly 50-meter (160 feet) tall stainless steel prototype of SpaceX’ Starship spacecraft and Super Heavy rocket – collectively referred to as Starship – is part of Musk’s vision to put satellites into orbit around Earth, and cargo and people onto the moon and Mars.
The unmanned spacecraft took off from SpaceX’s base in Boca Chica, in remote coastal Texas, and rose to an altitude of about 12 kilometers (7 miles), powered by three Raptor engines.
After about five minutes of flight, it performed a “belly-flop” maneuver to position itself parallel to the ground as planned, and began a controlled descent back to the launch site.
Above the ground the engines blasted and it righted itself into standing position, however the spacecraft exploded on touchdown, so at 6 minutes, 42 seconds the test flight ended in a massive fireball.
“Fuel header tank pressure was low during landing burn, causing touchdown velocity to be high (…), but we got all the data we needed!” the owner of SpaceX, billionaire Elon Musk, explained in a tweet.
Following the explosion, Musk tweeted: “Mars, here we come!!”
The aerospace company is known for adopting an aggressive strategy to rapidly advance its spacecraft development program and learning from its mistakes, which has led to explosions during test flights.
Recently, SpaceX has won contracts with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to carry out missions to deliver supplies and research equipment to the International Space Station (ISS).
On Monday, the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft, carried by a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, became the first capsule to automatically dock at the ISS.
SpaceX also successfully sent its first manned operational mission to the ISS in November. EFE-EPA