WASHINGTON, Dec. 9 (Xinhua) — American private space company SpaceX’s next-generation heavy-lift rocket Starship exploded in a test flight in Texas on Wednesday.
The launch and ascent of Starship serial number 8 (SN8) were successful, but as the engines appeared to reignite for landing, the vehicle flipped back to vertical and then slammed into the ground.
The company said Starship SN8 lifted off from the launch pad in Cameron County, Texas, and successfully ascended, transitioned propellant, and performed its landing flip maneuver with precise flap control to reach its landing point.
Yet, “low pressure in the fuel header tank during the landing burn led to high touchdown velocity resulting in a hard (and exciting!) landing,” SpaceX said on its website.
“Fuel header tank pressure was low during landing burn, causing touchdown velocity to be high & RUD (Rapid Unscheduled Disassembly), but we got all the data we needed!” SpaceX CEO Elon Musk tweeted.
SpaceX’s Starship spacecraft and Super Heavy rocket represent a fully reusable transportation system designed to carry both crew and cargo to Earth orbit, the moon, Mars and beyond.
The space company said its Starship will be the world’s most powerful launch vehicle ever developed, with the ability to carry in excess of 100 metric tons to Earth orbit.