SpaceX’s Starship test flight ended in a ball of flame, but CEO Elon Musk is happy with the result. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, who heads up his own spaceflight company called Blue Origin, congratulated Musk and the rest of the SpaceX team for the Starship test flight.
SpaceX's Starship test flight was a success
When SpaceX launched its prototype Starship rocket on Wednesday, it reached its highest altitude so far. However, when the ship tried to land, it erupted into a massive fireball. Starship SN8 launched from SpaceX's Boca Chica, Texas facility and flew eight miles into the air over the Gulf of Mexico.
The rocket then returned to Earth but exploded when it hit the ground. SpaceX said on its website that the ship exploded due to "low pressure in the fuel header tank during the landing burn," which resulted in "high touchdown velocity" and a "hard (and exciting!) landing." No one was injured in the crash.
Musk tweeted that SpaceX's unmanned Starship test flight was successful because they were able to collect all of the data they needed to move forward in their efforts to develop a ship to take humans to Mars.
Successful ascent, switchover to header tanks & precise flap control to landing point! https://t.co/IIraiESg5M
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 9, 2020
Jeff Bezos congratulates the SpaceX team
In an Instagram post, Bezos congratulated the SpaceX team, saying, "Anybody who knows how hard this stuff is is impressed by today's Starship test." He also said he is confident that the SpaceX team will be "back at it soon." Bezos is in direct competition with Musk's SpaceX through his Blue Origin spaceflight company. The two companies are racing to be the first to put humans on Mars or set other major milestones in spaceflight.
SpaceX's Starship is a reusable space vehicle that Musk hopes will one day take the first humans to Mars. Two previous test flights of the ship earlier this year were also successful, although they reached much lower altitudes.
Wednesday's launch is a major milestone in his goal of taking humans to Mars one day. The Starship is also being designed for other jobs in space, like lifting satellites into orbit and taking humans to the moon and perhaps other planets one day.