SpaceX successfully landed the flight test of its prototype Starships in Boca Chica, Texas on Wednesday. During the six-minute flight, the spacecraft rocketed upward, conducted a “belly flop” maneuver and finally righted itself before landing vertically. A small fire burned on the landing pad for a few minutes under the Starship, similar to the test that ended in an explosion. There was no explosion however, marking the first successful landing for the prototype reusable spacecraft SpaceX plans to eventually use for missions to the Moon and Mars. The test flight represents a major win. “Starship landing nominal!” tweeted founder Elon Musk. SpaceX has also plans to combine the Starship spaceship with a Super Heavy rocket, creating a fully reusable system to explore deep into our solar system. This final version will stand 394 feet (120 meters) tall and will be able to carry 100 metric tonnes into Earth orbit, the most powerful launch vehicle ever developed.
Musk has said he was optimistic about the SN15 flight and the spacecraft’s ability to make it to orbit by the end of this year and eventually transport people. SpaceX also flew its third group of astronauts to the International Space Station late last month, and on Sunday it returned four astronauts from the orbiting laboratory in its Dragon spacecraft.