SpaceX finally stuck a landing with its Starship prototype spacecraft on Wednesday.
Elon Musk’s vehicle, which was chosen by NASA two weeks ago to fly its astronauts to the surface of the moon, lifted off from SpaceX’s launch site in southern Texas near Brownsville and the border of Mexico, The Washington Post reported. The spacecraft fired its three Raptor engines and climbed to an altitude of 6 miles, the newspaper reported.
After four minutes, the spacecraft did a “belly flop” maneuver and headed back to Earth, righting itself and reigniting its engine so the ship could land softy, the Post reported.
“We are down, the Starship has landed,” John Insprucker, SpaceX’s principal integration engineer, said during the live broadcast.
It was the second time SpaceX has landed Starship, The New York Times reported. A previous version exploded several minutes after enduring a harder landing than expected, the newspaper reported.
Other versions of the vehicle had exploded either during or after landing, the Times reported.
Flames continued to emerge from the base of the rocket after its landing, according to the Post.
The fire was a result of the fuel used by the rocket, Insprucker told reporters.
Shortly after SpaceX ended its official video feed, Musk used rocket jargon to tweet about the flight’s success.
“Starship landing nominal,” Musk tweeted.
In other words, the landing went by the book.
SpaceX’s successful landing came on the 60th anniversary of the flight of Alan Shepard, the first American in space.
Several weeks ago, NASA awarded a $2.9 billion contract to SpaceX to use Starship to take astronauts from lunar orbit to the surface of the moon, the Times reported. The contract is part of the Artemis program, the newspaper reported.
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