Explosive Fireball: SpaceX Launches Starship on Highest Flight

SpaceX launched the first high-altitude test flight of their next-generation Starship spacecraft. It was launched from Boca Chica, Texas at SpaceX’s launching facility. The Starship soared into the sky above the Gulf of Mexico. The flight went smoothly until the starship was heading back down to land. As the spacecraft reached the ground, the starship exploded into an enormous fireball. The prototype (called SN8) was supposed to fly as high as possible (an estimated 41,000 feet) for about five minutes, then flip and head back down to the remote area in Texas from which it was launched. The prototype did fly and flip but did not land safely on its way down. Instead, the tank exploded. The entire test flight took about six and a half minutes.

Although the landing was disastrous, Elon Musk, the founder, was excited for the future of this spacecraft. Replying to the SpaceX initial tweet about the test flight, Elon Musk tweeted twice, “Successful ascent, switchover to header tanks & precise flap control to landing point!” Then Musk continued the thread stating what went wrong, explaining, “Fuel header tank pressure was low during landing burn, causing touchdown velocity to be high & RUD, but we got all the data we needed! Congrats SpaceX team [h*ll] yeah!!” He stated it would be able to take people to Mars in as little as six years. This had been this spacecraft’s highest and most elaborate flight yet. Musk had predicted about a one in three chance of total success, so he was elated that the team had received all the information they needed to collect in an almost successful test flight. Musk later tweeted, “Mars, here we come!!”

The spacecraft itself is described as a fully reusable transportation system that is equipped for travel to Earth’s orbit, the Moon, Mars and deeper into space. It can carry up to 100 metric tons for deep space missions. This would include trips to the moon and Mars. The apparatus has a two-stage system which is 160 feet high with a 30-foot diameter, enabling it to carry up to 100 passengers. Structurally, the spacecraft contained a nose cone, and aerodynamic control surfaces, or more simply described as large flaps at its top and base. These structures would help it fly swiftly upward.

silhouette  of person looking at colorful sky Photo by Greg Rakozy from Unsplash SpaceX is an American aerospace services company whose goal is to better enable humans to travel to space using spaceship transportation methods. SpaceX has teams that both design and manufacture advanced spacecrafts and rockets that will later be launched into space. This experimental company was founded in 2002 by Elon Musk. Musk’s mission essentially states his vision for a future where humans can travel freely into space and ultimately colonize other planets such as Mars.

Past missions of SpaceX include the Falcon9 and the Falcon Heavy launches. SpaceX wisely invests in mission after mission, notable ones being a $1.6 billion contract with NASA and two separate Air Force contracts of $83 million and $69.5 million. SpaceX has more than 70 missions planned for the future on its Manifest, which represents over $10 billion in contracts. Musk has high hopes for the future of SpaceX, and the advancements of the spacecraft SN8.

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