A developmental model of Starship giant rocket tested by SpaceX Wednesday successfully soared eight miles above the company’s testing facilities in South Texas but crashed landing into the ground in an enormous plume of flames and smoke. This model rocket will be used for hauling massive satellites into Earth’s orbit, shuttling people between cities at breakneck speeds and – possibly – establishing a human settlement on Mars. It was the highes test flight and Elon Musk estimated that it had a one-in-three chance of landing safely back on Earth. An issue with the rocket’s fuel system caused it to make a crash landing.
The company’s ethos is to move quickly and learn from errors. Several previous Starship prototypes were destroyed during pressure tests. SpaceX had previously tried twice this week to launch the test flight, but both of the first attempts were halted with just moments left on the countdown clock. The company is still a long way from building an operational Starship spacecraft. The final Starship design will need six rocket engines, and even then the vehicle will require a separate, hulking rocket booster, dubbed the Super Heavy, to blast the spacecraft into orbit.